French-controlled nuclear generator EDF’s Renewables arm has won Whitehall consent to build the company’s first UK solar farm.

Due to be commissioned in 2025, EDF’s 50MWp battery-enabled Longfield venture will cover 380 acres of supposed ‘intensive arable’ land near Hatfield Peveril, Essex, close to the A12 north-east of Chelmsford.  It will, according to the company’s press release, “generate around 350MW from solar energy”.

Consent was granted by energy secretary Grant Shapps, on the recommendation of the National Planning Inspectorate.

Now that co-developers Padero Solar’s 18 months of talks with stakeholders are completed, EDF Renewables projects Longfield’s first output only for 2028.

Head of solar Ben Fawcett said: “The feedback we received from residents, local authorities & environmental groups in our consultation has helped shape our plans. We will continue to work closely with them to make sure we minimise the impact of construction and maximise the huge opportunities for the area”.

EDF’s success in Essex prompts fresh questions over national planning rules & grid connections, at present delayed by as much as a decade.  National Grid last week announced a consultation on its plans to weed out redundant applications among the record 280GW on its waiting list.

50MW output is the planning threshold, above which giant solar farms such as Hive & Wirsol’s 350MW Cleeve Hill venture in Kent require Whitehall approval as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project.

Giant schemes in clean generation currently awaiting national Planning Authority say-so include EDF Renewables’ 100 MW wind, solar & storage plan near Port Talbot, and Peel Rubico’s 150MW hybrid submission for Frodsham, next to Cheshire’s Ellesmere Port industrial complex.

Meanwhile Coventry City Council is seeking planning consent for a 33MW PV park on 103 grazed acres which it owns near the M6.

The city needs the park’s projected maximum 30 MWh daily output to help electrify its bus fleet before 2026, as well as feeding power to Britain’s second-only municipal Energy Superhub.  The latter will include a vertical take-off apron for electric air taxis.

Seven months of construction will be needed, according to Councillor Jim O’Boyle, pictured, the council’s cabinet lead for climate change.

He added: “The proposed solar farm …goes hand in hand with our other green projects including plans for Coventry Very Light Rail, improved cycling infrastructure, and our drive to install more on-street charge points.

“We will be the UK’s first all-electric bus city too, of course.”


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