Construction of underground electricity cables and associated infrastructure to connect Hulam Solar Farm (DM/19/03959/FPA) to the existing substation near Hart in Hartlepool
The Committee considered a report of the Senior Planning Officer regarding an application for the construction of underground electricity cables and associated infrastructure to connect Hulam Solar Farm to the existing substation near Hart in Hartlepool at Hulam Farm, Hutton Henry (for copy see file of Minutes).
C Shields, Senior Planning Officer provided a detailed presentation which included a site location plan, aerial photograph of the site and site layout.
Jack Osgerby of The Pegasus Group addressed the Committee in support of the application. Lightsource BP was a major national and international leader in the funding, development and long-term management of large-scale solar projects with many years of experience. In 2018 Durham County Council declared a Climate Emergency with a pledge to make the County carbon neutral. Following the granting of permission for the solar farm at Hutton Farm on 17 June 2020 this application sought consent for the provision of underground cables to connect the approved solar farm to the Hart substation and as such the application was entirely necessary to facilitate the connection and the operation of the approved solar farm and deliver important renewable energy benefits. Once operational the solar farm would generate enough electricity to power approximately 13,397 typical homes and save approximately 16,865 tonnes of CO2 emissions per annum. This was the equivalent of removing around 3,588 standard cars from the roads each year. The application would help to meet national commitments and obligations on net zero carbon reduction including those set out by the government in its net zero strategy. The generation of solar power was one of the main initiatives that would play an important role in meeting the government’s target that by 2035 all electricity would need to come from low carbon sources. Since submission of the application discussions had taken place with Council officers which had resulted in the removal of the proposed substation on the recommendation of the Landscape Officer. Local Plan Policy 10 confirmed that essential infrastructure was supported where a need could be demonstrated for the location. In this case such need existed to connect the approved solar farm to the grid network.
Councillor Wilson considered this to be a significant project and a positive for the area to bring in a renewable energy source and was a big step going towards being carbon neutral. Councillor Wilson moved approval of the application. Councillor McKeon informed the Committee that this was an important piece of infrastructure to support the already approved solar farm and seconded approval of the application.
That the application be approved subject to the Conditions contained in the report.