Plans for £15m solar panel farm to power Nissan are kicked out

NO GO: The proposed site for the solar panel farm off the A19 and A1231 at Woodhouse Farm in Ferryboat Lane.

NO GO: The proposed site for the solar panel farm off the A19 and A1231 at Woodhouse Farm in Ferryboat Lane.

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A SUNDERLAND businessman has seen plans for a £15million solar panel farm which would have powered Nissan turned down.

Sunderland City Council’s planning and highways committee was told by the car firm the proposed park, off the A19 and A1231 at Woodhouse Farm in Ferryboat Lane, would help it cut costs and back its low carbon car plans.

European Energy boss Glenn Jones said he wanted to invest in his home city, with 75 per cent of the cash earmarked to be spent locally and help support Sunderland’s economic regeneration.

But members agreed the 25-year development, would harm Sunderland’s green belt and could endanger drivers distracted by the glint on the panels as they used the major roads.

Officers had already recommended refusal of the 44,088 250w panels, which would stretch over the equivalent of nine football pitches, on the basis it would be an inappropriate development on the plot.

Mr Jones told the meeting: “Nissan is the potential user of solar power and it’s a forward thinking idea.

“This is good news, but for me as a Sunderland lad, I see it as a opportunity to make a statement.

“My plans are to invest £100million in solar Photovoltaic and I would like to spend some of that money in my own back yard.”

Several committee members said they were not against solar panels or efforts to support Nissan, but felt the park was in the wrong location.

European Energy said it looked at two sites to the north of Barmston Lane but there was a lack of interest from the landowners, while putting it on the roof of Nissan was not feasible because of the buildings’ structure and down time needed for its installation.

Members also raised concerns it could ruin the view as people headed into Washington, with industry to one side of the A1231, and green fields and woodland to the other, showing the town is a “lovely place to live.”

Councillor George Thompson, who represents the Washington South ward, said: “For me, it’s the visual impact.

“That view, that visual of the Wear valley to Penshaw, Offerton, Barmston and Cox Green, is really something special and competes with others across the North East of England.

“It’s as good as the view of Alnwick Castle or Durham Cathedral.

“This is a very prominent location and it should not be spoilt.”

The committee’s decision to turn down the plan was unanimous.