Developer planning 49 MW scheme on Anglesey

Large scale solar is alive and kicking in the UK after the decision by a High Court judge in June to overturn a member of the coalition government’s attempts to block a 24 MW solar farm in the county of Suffolk.

Perhaps emboldened by the legal victory of solar developer Lark Energy, Welsh developer the Solar Building Company (SBC) is drawing up plans for a 49 MW project on the island of Anglesey.

The company issued a press release today outlining its plans to launch a four-week public consultation to get the views of residents near the four pieces of land earmarked for the project.

Once the public’s views are taken into account, SBC and landowner Mere Environmental, will submit a planning application to Isle of Anglesey County Council.

‘Unobtrusive – unlike wind’

The nature of the public objections the developer is anticipating were reflected in remarks by SBC managing director James Steynor, who said the development "will have very limited visual impact and will be completely silent," adding, solar projects are "certainly unobtrusive unlike, for example, wind farms."

The public backlash against solar farms – prompted by fears of unsightly appearance and a reduction in the amount of productive UK farmland – culminated in Tory secretary of state for communities and local government Eric Pickles’ decision, in October, to refuse planning permission for Lark Energy’s planned 24 MW scheme in Suffolk, eastern England, a decision right-wing newspaper The Telegraph said sounded ‘the death knell’ for large scale solar in the UK.

With a general election looming in May, solar developers have been pessimistic about their prospects under the current government but Lark’s legal victory in June, which saw High Court judge Keith Lindblom criticize Pickles’ ‘perverse decision’ and refuse the government right to appeal, has set UK utility scale solar back on track.

SBC, which added the sheep grazing currently taking place on the sites would be unaffected by the project, plans to develop four sites in the Llanfihangel yn Nhowyn area for the projected GBP55 million ($93.4 million) scheme, which it hopes to build in 2016.