Solar farm application sparks protest

Group of people in a field holding a protest
About 100 people held a protest at the site near Burnhope [BBC]

Residents opposed to plans for a solar farm have held a protest against a renewed planning application.

In February, a judicial review quashed Durham County Council's approval of proposals by Lightsource bp for the 92-hectare site near Burnhope.

Campaigners say the new application is the same size and contains the same number of panels (110,640) as the previous one.

The company said it has made changes, including improvements to rights of way and landscaping to minimise visual impacts.

The project would see 14 fields overlaid with panels, including areas around a popular nature reserve.

About 100 people, carrying banners and placards, turned up at a rally at the site.

One campaigner said they felt "trampled on by big business that cares nothing for the community and nothing for our local environment".

Lower bills claim

Durham County Council said it had received updated information and the application would be subject to its "standard process".

Michael Kelleher, head of planning and housing, said this would include consultation with local residents and other interested parties.

He added: "All responses... will be carefully considered before the application is determined.”

Lightsource bp said the project would deliver about £500,000 in community benefits and millions in business rates.

It would also "drive down electricity bills and address climate change".

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