Proposals for a new renewable energy generation and storage project in South Yorkshire have won the backing of a local Rotherham Metropolitan Borough councillor.
Councillor Benjamin Whomersley is supporting the planning application from independent renewable energy firm Banks Renewables for their proposed new solar and battery energy park at a 116-hectare site to the west of the Todwick Road Industrial Estate in Dinnington.
And Cllr Whomersley, who represents the Dinnington Ward, believes that the long-term community improvements that could be secured through the £2m benefits package that would come as part of the project have led many local people to also take a positive view of the scheme.
The Common Farm Solar Energy Park would sit around three miles to the east of Banks’ Penny Hill Wind Farm and would have an installed capacity of up to 49MW, along with a 50 MW battery storage facility.
This is enough to meet the average annual electricity requirements of up to 18,800 family homes and would displace over 11,470 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the electricity supply network each year.
As part of the company’s policy of delivering tangible benefits to the places in which its operations are based, the project would also deliver an annual package of community benefits totalling £50,000, or more than £2,000,000 through its lifetime, to support local community projects.
Councillor Benjamin Whomersley says: “I’m a strong advocate of maximising the use of renewable energy in meeting our current and future energy needs.
“This project would have a strong contribution to make in this respect, while also bringing jobs and investment to the local area, and the benefits package that is part of it could be used to meet a wide range of community improvement priorities for many years to come.
“Many of the local people that I’ve spoken to recognise the positive impact that this funding would have on their community and they’re aligned with it happening.
“The solar energy park couldn’t be in a better location in terms of being out of the way and I would very much hope to see these plans moving forward in the near future.”
A detailed ecology and biodiversity strategy which would ensure the site delivers a net benefit in biodiversity to the local community also forms part of the Common Farm Solar Energy Park proposal, with the ground around and beneath the solar panels being used to create a wildflower meadow.
There would also be increased planting of hedgerows, while part of the site will also be managed to encouraged Lapwings to thrive.
A battery electricity storage system would link directly into the Thurcroft electricity sub-station around three kilometres to the north of the site, which will help support the long-term security of energy supplies to UK consumers.
“I’m a strong advocate of maximising the use of renewable energy in meeting our current and future energy needs.”
Alongside its four onshore wind farms in Yorkshire, Banks Renewables is also the company behind recent proposals for a new green energy hub at the former Thorpe Marsh Power Station site near Doncaster.
Lewis Stokes, senior community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “We’re grateful to Councillor Whomersley for his support for this project and for recognising the different environmental, economic, social and energy security benefits that it could bring to his community.
“Since launching this project last summer, we’ve spent a lot of time speaking to local people and businesses about its different elements and the response we’ve had has been generally very encouraging.
“Maximising the production and storage of renewable energy from sources within the UK is a crucial part of our nation’s ongoing journey towards its Net Zero targets, especially with the current energy security and cost of living crisis in mind.
“The Common Farm solar and battery scheme will extend the contribution we’re able to make locally towards reaching these goals and we’re excited at what can be achieved here.”
A planning application for the project was submitted to Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council last summer and is expected to come before its planning committee in the coming weeks.