Planners in rural Herefordshire have praised an application they’ve approved for a giant 45MWp solar farm.

Debutant developer Conrad Energy’s application for the 120 acre Larport solar farm, to be located with a battery next to a 66 KVA grid connection at Clay Hill Pit near Darmington, between Hereford & Ledbury, was described by the chair of the county’s planning committee Terry Jones, as ‘an exemplar’, the developers claimed today.

Following more than two years of consultations with locals and two parish councils, the county’s decision-makers gave Larport their unanimous blessing this week.

Conrad’s promise of forty hectares of new native wildflower grassland, yielding a gain in the locality’s biodiversity, helped sweeten the deal.

Clean power adequate to light and heat over 11,000 typical UK homes will result. Carbon savings of 9,500 of CO2 equivalent will go towards Herefordshire’s target to be carbon neutral by 2030.

This week’s approval was the third since July 2016 which Conrad have secured for the site, outlined above.

County officials first green-lighted the plot for DSTOR diesel-powered stand-by generation.  A revised proposal for gas-generated stand-by power was approved in February 2018.

Finally in November 2019 Conrad applied to turn Larport into a solar farm.  After representations from locals, fields in the plot’s north western corner were removed.

The Abingdon-based developers are owned by I Squared Capital, private equity investors in energy.

During the planning committee’s recent considerations, vice-chairman Paul Rone described the Larport proposal as “one of the most important that’s come before me, and a big decision for us to make”.

Conrad’s design for Larport will see less than 5% of the land disturbed.

Solar racks to be erected on around 40% of the site area will be reversible. Over a working life of 40 years, the developers claim, the rested land will benefit from increased biodiversity and an improved ecosystem. The soil will be enhanced as it will be far less intensively farmed during this time

Conrad’s development director Chris Shears, said: ““This exciting development leverages the solar experience of our team and reflects our vision for Conrad Energy as a full-service power solutions provider”.


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