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RES’ 25 MW solar farm in South Gloucestershire given go-ahead

RES’ 25 MW solar farm in South Gloucestershire given go-ahead

South Gloucestershire Council has granted approval for the construction of the 25MW Varley Solar Farm, located southeast of Cromhall. 

The decision, aligning with the recommendation of the council’s planning committee, marks a significant step in the development of renewable energy infrastructure in the area, and comes despite widespread local opposition with more than 100 objections lodged to the council

Bert Devossel, Development Project Manager at RES, expressed satisfaction with the council’s decision, stating, “We’re delighted to start the year with planning consent for Varley Solar Farm, a project that will provide clean, low-cost electricity for consumers and strengthen the UK’s energy security.”

The solar farm’s design incorporates a dual-purpose approach, allowing for the continuation of agricultural activities, specifically sheep farming. Additionally, the project promises environmental enhancements, such as the planting of native trees and hedgerows. These efforts aim to significantly boost the biodiversity of the area and address some of the concerns lodged by local residents. The development will also feature the creation of wildflower meadows and the installation of habitats for various wildlife, including bird and bat boxes, hedgehog houses, reptile hibernacula, and invertebrate hotels.

Feedback from the local community and stakeholders played a crucial role in shaping the final design of the solar farm. Changes were made to accommodate local concerns, including adjustments to the Public Rights of Way (PRoW) network and delivery route options. Devossel added, “The consultation process has allowed us to identify and respond to local issues and concerns, which has ultimately resulted in the best design for the scheme. As well as taking account of the well-used Public Rights of Way (PRoW) network, feedback from the local community told us we had to look again at all possible delivery route options. We altered our plans to reflect this by creating a short bypass off the public roads and think the approved plans provide a pragmatic solution to those original concerns.”

Once operational, Varley Solar Farm is expected to generate up to 25 MW of renewable energy annually. This output could be sufficient in powering nearly 10,000 homes each year and could lead to the reduction of approximately 600,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions over the farm’s 40-year projected lifespan, in comparison to traditional fossil fuel sources.

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