In the News: preparing a strategy to guide solar farm development

Written by: Colin Marrs
Published on: 10 Jan 2016

Solar farm - Flickr Michael Mees

This month, North Lincolnshire Council approved a supplementary planning document aimed at guiding future solar photovoltaic (PV) development within its borders. Chris Barwell is spatial planning manager at the council.

Q. How did it the document originate?
A. Recently North Lincolnshire has been under pressure from a lot of wind farm and wind turbine applications. Members identified an aspiration to provide a bit more depth and detail to the planning process in order to add a local element to the national guidelines. We want to welcome solar development but ensure it is in the right places.

Q. What issue is the document aimed at addressing?
It basically looks at trying to ensure that the council’s planning policy is supportive of solar development but in the right locations. We have adopted a sequential approach to make sure the lowest quality agricultural land is used for this type of development before other land types.

Not many others have done it, although a few have adopted similar approaches – we looked at those– but needed to make sure that we met our own particular circumstances.. Of course we had to meet legal requirements for consultation and we took on board a lot of comments on the draft before producing a final version.

Q. What changes did you make to the document following the consultation?
There was a fair amount of input from the development industry. They made a lot of positive suggestions, following which we made some changes to be extra sure the document was compliant with the National Planning Policy Framework – particularly in terms of the designations of land where solar development will and won’t be allowed.

Q. How long did the preparation of the document take?
There were a few of us working on the document – it wasn’t just me. We started work in September and turned it round quickly.

Solar farm image by Michael Mees, Flickr