Decision looms for 216-acre solar power station in east Leeds

Plans to build a gigantic solar power station in east Leeds are set to go before decision-makers at a meeting next week.

Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:46 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 4:48 pm

The proposal, put forward by Banks Renewables, is for a 40 megawatt capacity photociltaic park, to cover 87.7 hectares – or 216 acres – of land on a site off Barnsdale Road in Allerton Bywater.

A report by Leeds City Council planning officers stated solar panels would be arranged into rows and mounted onto steel racks, each arranged in seven areas, with an electricity collection point in each area.

Each panel will measure around 4.5 metres by 3.55 metres, while a 3.25 metre high control building would also be on the site.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A new solar farm could be approved by next week. (Pic: Getty)

Other changes listed as part of the development included improvements the junction of Barnsdale Road, five on-site cabins for workers and lighting columns/CCTV to secure the site.

The report added: “The main purpose of the solar photovoltaic park is to generate renewable electricity for use by the National Grid. The grid connection would be made via underground cabling to the existing Ledston substation located in the south eastern corner of the site, opposite Low Lodge.”

However, the site sits in the green belt, and Leeds City Council had previously told the applicants they needed to provide “very special circumstances” to justify their plans on this site, and what the benefits would be.

Local response to the plans has been mixed.

Ward councillors were generally supportive of the scheme, while Kippax Parish council “unanimously supported” the proposals. The council received a further 12 letters of support, with issues such as the renewable form of energy and job creation being the main reasons.

However, the site has also received 67 objections from members of the public, with many stating the proposal would cover a large part of the green belt, would be large and unsightly, and would be too close to residential neighbourhoods.

Some residents were also concerned about the reflected flare from the panels, and how this would affect living conditions in the area, while others felt it could devalue nearby house prices.

Planning officers have recommended councillors approve the plans in principle, stating: “In favour of the development, it is recommended that very significant weight should be attached to the proposal’s renewable energy generating capacity of 40MW, which would be greater than the low carbon and renewable technological contributions presently installed within the Leeds district.

“Very significant weight should also be attached to the need to increase the production of energy from renewable sources to assist in addressing, amongst other matters, Leeds’ Climate Change Emergency and contribution towards both national and international emission reduction targets in this regard.

“In this particular instance it is considered that, on balance, the benefits of the proposed development are compelling and clearly outweigh the harm by reason of inappropriateness and all other identified harm.”

Leeds City Council’s City Plans Panel will meet to discuss the plans on Thursday, June 10.