Fresh concerns raised over scale of 'huge' solar farm planned for Briercliffe

More councillors have added their concerns over a planned “huge” solar farm which could be built in Briercliffe.

As reported in the Burnley Express, initial plans have been submitted in relation to a 47 hectare solar farm on farmland in Briercliffe, near to Queen Street Mill.

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A development consultancy has indicated to Burnley Council it has a client considering installing the array of panels on 116 acres on farmland off Todmorden Road in Cockden.The solar farm would overlook Cockden Beck and the village of Worsthorne.

Outline of the proposed solar farm for Brierclifee

A resident who lives nearby contacted the Express to raise his concerns that the proposed development could cut off many existing rights of way.

It will be surrounded by security fencing and CCTV cameras and will be devastating for wildlife, residents and visitors, he also believes.

Now, former Briercliffe Liberal Democrat councillor Roger Frost and Conservative County Coun. Cosima Towneley, the new Mayor of Burnley, have also added their concerns.

Mr Frost, a member of Burnley Civic Trust, said: “A colleague on the civic trust spotted the application. We were all concerned over the huge size of the site and decided we would send a preliminary letter in warning of the size of the application in what is a semi-rural area.

"It would have a direct impact on anybody that lives nearby. It is more than huge.”

County Coun. Towneley whose Burnley Rural Division would encompass the site, said she too was concerned over the size and its potential detrimental impact on local nature.The site is close to the home of former Labour leader and the previous Mayor of Burnley Coun. Mark Townsend, said: “There is a delicate balance here between generating green energy and the impact on the environment. I am waiting to see more details.”

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Planning consultant Pegasus Group has written to Burnley Council asking whether a future planning application would require an Environmental Impact Assessment.

Its letter says: “The proposed development comprises a ground mounted solar farm together with associated equipment and infrastructure.

“It is anticipated the delivered capacity of the solar farm would be up to 30 megawatts.

“The proposed development would consist of:

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• photovoltaic arrays based on simple metal framework up to a maximum height of four metres;

• a transformer, battery energy storage system, power equipment and switchgear;

• boundary fencing (e.g. deer fencing);

• a CCTV system, either pole or fence-mounted;

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• access tracks.

A substation would be provided for the connection of the solar farm to the National Grid.”

Briercliffe ward Liberal Democrat Coun. Gordon Lishman said: “It is very large and would be highly visible. At the moment it is just a screening option asking if it needs an EIA and we as ward councillors think it does.

“The council is not required to publicise this but would have to with planning application.

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“While carbon free energy generation is good we have to consider the impact on wildlife and the countryside.”

Solar farms are large scale applications of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, providing a source of safe, locally produced renewable energy for many years after construction.