FARMLAND lying in the shadow of Penshaw Monument could be made home to a sea of 40,000 solar panels on what could be the first solar farm in the North East.
If the farm comes to fruition, it will be situated on part of the 50-acre Wood House Farm at North Hylton and have a capacity of 10 megawatts. It will have a life-span of 25 years.
Chester-le-Street-based On-Site Land Solutions Ltd has submitted a request for a screening opinion to Sunderland City Council on behalf of its partner, European Energy Photovoltaics Ltd.
The submission comes under the Town and County Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2011 and is required in advance of a planning application being made.
The proposal involves covering just over 16 acres of the site with 40,000 250-watt 60-cell photo-voltaic (PV) panels measuring 1.65 metres by 0.99 metres.
The application states that the farm would be “visible or intermittently visible” from the A19 and A1231, the Coast to Coast cycle route and areas to the south and west, including from the Penshaw Monument, which is about 1½ miles south west of the site.
“Due to its location near Nissan and the Vantec Europe warehouse, the visual impact is likely to be only locally significant,” the application states, adding: “The impact on the landscape would only be temporary, and reversible.”
The 40,000 panels would be arranged in rows no higher than 2.5 metres above ground level and mounted at an angle of 30 to 35 degrees on metal frames with legs piled into the ground.
They would have no permanent foundation and would be surrounded by security fencing.
Much of the structure would be built off the site to minimise disruption with any stripped soil kept for use in the restoration of the site to agricultural use when the solar farm comes to the end of its life. While in operation, the surrounding land will continue to be used for grazing.
The application, states that there is a potential issue of glare and glint coming from the site which is situated within the Tyne and Wear Green Belt and is bordered by the A19 and A1231.
However, the document says that glint, which is more intense than glare, can only be seen to the west in the mornings and east in the evenings.