The solar project will include 50MW of battery storage. Image: Banks Renewables.

A 49MW solar farm in South Yorkshire is one step closer to development with Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council voting in favour of the project.

The proposals, which include up to 49MW of solar and a 50MW battery storage facility, had been brought forward by independent renewable energy firm Banks Renewables at a 116-hectare site to the west of the Todwick Road Industrial Estate in Dinnington.

Banks confirmed that the battery storage facility, which would be connected to the Common Farm Solar Energy Park, would also link directly to the Thurcroft electricity substation around three kilometres to the north of the site.

The planning application for the project is now to be referred to the Secretary of State with the council’s planning committee having voted in favour of the scheme by a majority of eight to one.

“Having had a recommendation for approval for our Common Farm Solar Energy Park proposals from Rotherham Council’s expert planning officers, we’re very pleased that the members of the Council’s planning committee have been minded to follow their advice,” said Jamilah Hassan, community relations manager at The Banks Group.

Solar Power Portal reported on the launch of the project in June 2022 and since, the Banks has carried out community consultation activities to improve engagement. The firm also stated there would be an annual £50,000 package of community benefits that forms part of the solar and battery project. This would see more than £2,000,000 delivered over the lifetime to support local community projects.

“The response we’ve had to this project from local people over the last year has generally been very positive, and there’s been widespread recognition of the environmental, energy security and community benefits that it will bring to the local area,” Hassan added.

“The Common Farm Solar Energy Park would extend the contribution that we’re able to make locally towards reaching these goals while also increasing the tangible benefits that we can deliver to local communities through the benefits package that forms a key part of the overall project.

“We’re excited at what can be achieved here and hope to be able to move this project forward as quickly as possible.”

Banks Renewables will produce a detailed ecology and biodiversity strategy, with the aim that the site delivers a net benefit in biodiversity. The ground around and beneath the solar panels will be used to create a wildflower meadow, and there will be increased hedgerow planting.

According to the project proposals, the solar farm will have a lifespan of 40 operational years and will be located on agricultural land. At the end of its lifespan, the infrastructure will be removed and the site will return to farmland.

This can have multiple benefits for the farmland. Ground-mounted solar can provide an opportunity to heal damaged farmland and, once the infrastructure has been removed, the farmland can return to its farming roots with improved rates. The solar panels will have an approximate panel height of 4.5m.

As well as Common Farm, Banks is also looking to develop the 40MW Barnsdale solar energy park, which was recommended for approval by Leeds City Council’s planning officers in June 2021.

Solar Power Portal's publisher Solar Media will host the UK Solar Summit on 27-28 June 2023 in London. The event will explore UK’s new landscape for utility and rooftop solar, looking at the opportunities within a GW+ annual market, and much more. For more information, go to the website.