Fylde Borough Council has passed plans for a solar farm at Staining Wood, off Preston New Road. The plans, lodged by LightSource, were passed unanimously by Fylde councillors. The Staining Wood site, which ironically is almost opposite the field Cuadrilla has earmarked for fracking, is tucked away and will not be visible from the road or surrounding properties.
This isn’t a community energy scheme and the electricity created will be directed straight into the grid. At its peak the site will produce 4.9 megawatts (MWp) which is enough to power 1,352 houses; it will save 2,310 tonnes of carbon emissions every year, which is the equivalent of taking 513 large family cars off the road.
Members of RAFF visited the site prior to the planning meeting and we were impressed with LightSource’s Biodiversity Management Plan. For example, sheep will graze on the farm, giving the land a dual use – producing food as well as energy. Areas around the panels will be managed to create ‘enhanced habitat corridors,’ comprising wild flowers and grasses to encourage, bees, insects and other wildlife. New tress will also be planted. LightSource say that the farm will have no floodlighting, overhead lines or moving parts.
The site is expected to be operational by March 2016.
A spokesperson from RAFF said: “We are delighted that the Staining Wood solar farm is to go ahead and we hope this is the first of many new renewable energy projects on the Fylde. RAFF has consistently promoted green energy as an alternative to developing shale gas in Lancashire. As well as proving green energy, the plans for this site will enhance the biodiversity of our area, unlike those of Cuadrilla, which are set to destroy natural habitats, pose a threat to public health, destroy our agricultural and tourism industries, and contribute to global warming.”