Nissan set to drive forward with green energy scheme

Nissan's Sunderland plant is set to get its own solar farm.

Nissan's Sunderland plant is set to get its own solar farm.

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A Wearside car giant’s bid to drive forward an eco-friendly energy scheme has stepped up a gear.

Sunderland City Council is set to approve a plan by Nissan to power itself through the construction of a solar farm.

This is going to be huge. You will be able to see it from space it will be that big.

Coun Stuart Porthouse

The farm would be filled with more than 19,000 photovoltaic panels on the test track of the Nissan site in Washington Road, Sunderland – with one councillor saying people will “be able to see it from space”.

Glenn Jones, boss of the applicants European Energy, says the solar installation would save about 50,000 tonnes of CO2 over its 25-year lifespan – making a significant contribution to reducing carbon emissions and tackling climate change.

A previous proposal to build a 44,000 panel farm at Woodhouse Farm, in Ferryboat Lane, stalled due to concerns it would harm a green belt area.

That application was refused by councillors in January.

But the new application will be built within the existing Nissan base – easing any concerns over its visual impact on the effect on green belt land.

Councillors at a Development Control sub-committee meeting at Sunderland Civic Centre praised the plans.

No objections were raised at the meeting.

A planning officer’s report states that the solar farm will not be visible at any location within two kilometres.

The application also includes the construction of a 3.85 metre-high weather station and 15 CCTV cameras.

The farm is expected to take 11 weeks to complete once building work gets under way.

Committee member, Coun Stuart Porthouse said: “This is going to be huge. You will be able to see it from space, it will be that big.

“I want to be able to go to see it. I think it will be great. This ticks all the boxes for renewable energy.”

Coun Richard Bell added: “I think this is a good development.”

Councillors agreed to delegate a final decision to the executive director for commercial development, who is minded to approve the bid.

A final decision will be confirmed after July 20, when the statutory period for representations and objections to the proposals expires.

A Nissan spokesman said: “We can confirm a plan to install over 19,000 solar panels within the loop of the vehicle test track at Nissan Sunderland plant.

“Subject to approval, this project is due to be operational later this year, and will add to the renewable energy already generated by 10 wind turbines on site in Sunderland.”