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Aura Power receives planning permission for Hawthorn Pit solar farm

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Energy Global,

The appeal for Aura Power’s 49.9MW solar farm at Hawthorn Pit in Durham has been allowed, and planning permission has therefore been granted.

The appeal decision from the Planning Inspectorate, in part, concludes:

“On balance, the scheme would leave a landscape with enhanced biodiversity and ecology consistent with the objectives of development plan policy, in particular Policy 33 of the County Durham Plan (CDP). In these circumstances, whilst there would be some localised harm to landscape character in conflict with the relevant development plan policies, the imperative to tackle climate change, as recognised in legislation and energy policy, and the very significant benefits of the scheme clearly and decisively outweigh the harm I have identified.”

Hawthorn Pit solar farm will provide enough clean electricity to power over 17 000 homes each year, saving around 15 000 t of carbon emissions, compared with electricity produced by gas.

The decision also recognises that “the scheme includes substantive planting in the form of trees and hedgerows [...] Such works are incorporated within a Biodiversity Management Plan” and are calculated to deliver a significant Biodiversity Net Gain of 124% for habitats and 135% for hedgerows.

Simon Couslon, CEO of Aura Power, said “We are really pleased the Planning Inspectorate decided to allow our appeal, recognising the significant benefits that this development will bring. Durham County Council has declared a Climate Emergency pledging to reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050. This solar farm and others will contribute towards reaching this goal. We will continue to work with the local community and are looking forward to firming up the administration of the community benefit fund.”

Aura Power offers a community benefit fund across all of their UK solar projects. Their community benefit fund is designed to support local social, educational and environmental projects in the local community.

Construction start dates have yet to be set but the local community will be notified in advance when dates have been confirmed.



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