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Plans for £9m solar scheme unveiled

Leeds-based Oakapple Renewable Energy has submitted plans for a 33-acre solar farm that will provide enough electricity to power 2,100 homes a year.

The planned £9m Haigh Hall Solar Farm – the largest in Yorkshire – would be installed on low-grade agricultural land in Tingley on the outskirts of Leeds. It will comprise 32,000 solar panels mounted on steel frames and will take around 12 weeks to install, creating 80 temporary construction jobs as well as four permanent positions.

If approved, the scheme is predicted to generate 7.2 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year and reduce carbon emissions by 3,800 tonnes – the equivalent of 1,400 cars.

Under the proposals, Oakapple would operate the solar farm for the next 25 years, generating its revenue from Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs), after which time the land will be returned to its current state.

Philip Taylor, Oakapple managing director, said: “Unlike wind turbines, which can be seen for miles, solar panels can be hidden from view given the correct landscape. Furthermore, there is very little disruption during installation and, once operational, there is negligible noise.

“In addition, when compared to other forms of energy generation, solar panels do not generate pollution or waste.”

The Tingley site has been chosen because the solar panels can be installed within a natural dip in the land, thereby reducing the visual impact on the surrounding landscape. Additional planting and landscape management is also planned to boost the ecological value of the site.

The area underneath the panels can still be used for grazing, thereby maintaining the agricultural use of the land.

Haigh Hall Solar Farm is the first of six major applications being submitted by Oakapple. The other sites are in Devon, Cornwall, Wales and the East Midlands.

If all of the applications are successful, the company will be able to generate a combined 100 megawatts a year and provide power to 28,000 homes.

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