Ex Doncaster colliery in ‘energy farm’ plan

NEWS: News.
NEWS: News.
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A former colliery site on the edge of Doncaster could be turned into one of the borough’s first green energy farms to ‘harvest’ the sun’s rays.

Hundreds of solar panels on a site the size of 15 soccer pitches would be able to provide power for 2,500 homes if the scheme at Moorends gets the go-ahead.

Residents will get the chance next week to see for themselves what the Thorne Colliery Solar Farm project entails. Their feedback will help developers decide if it is viable.

RES, one of the world’s leading independent renewable energy companies, has asked Doncaster Council planning officers for a ‘screening opinion’ before submitting a formal planning application.

While that is being considered, residents are being invited to attend a public exhibition next week to learn about its proposal for a solar energy project – to be known as Thorne Colliery Solar Farm – located on the former Thorne Colliery site to the east of Moorends in South Yorkshire.

RES say they have completed initial feasibility studies and ‘believe we have a viable proposition to discuss with people in the area... and the feedback we receive from the public will be taken into account when preparing the final documentation’.

The proposed Thorne Colliery Solar Farm would use ground-mounted photovoltaic panels covering an area of around 32 acres, which would be capable of generating sufficient renewable electricity to meet the needs of up to 2,500 homes.

Members of the RES project team will be on hand throughout the exhibition to discuss the proposal and answer questions. Visitors will also have the opportunity to register their views regarding the project and to make suggestions about how the solar farm could deliver benefits to the local community.

Eliot Davies, project manager for RES, who already have several solar farms on the Continent and a proposed one in Cornwall, said: “We are eager to discuss the proposal with as many local people as possible, and will be providing information to help people understand in more detail what we are proposing and why we consider this site to be suitable for solar electricity generation.

“The proposed solar farm is on the site of a disused colliery, so if it goes ahead it would once again use the site for the purposes of energy production, using a natural and readily available source of power - sunlight.

“Unlike more traditional forms of energy generation, solar technology does not require any drilling or mining and doesn’t cause any by-products during generation.”

RES has contacted more than 1,400 local homes and businesses with a direct invitation to attend the event.

Feedback from members of the public will be taken into account in developing the planning application, which RES hopes to submit later this spring.

It would be for temporary planning permission for a 27 year period including up to one year for construction, 25 years operation, and a year decommissioning. After the 27 year period the development would be removed and site returned to its current use.

The development would consist of hundreds of 1.6 metre long solar panels in rows facing south, arranged on racks with a maximum height above ground level of 2.5m.

Thorne Colliery was under ‘care and maintenance’ for several decades until the early 1980s when new pit head gear was constructed, and millions were spent on a new shaft, but in 2002 it was decided that it would not be economical to proceed with the renovation of the pit, despite massive reserves of coal left in the High Hazel and Barnsley seams. The new pit heads were blown up in 2004.

•The solar farm exhibition takes place on Wednesday April 9, from 3pm to 7pm, at Moorends Miners’ Welfare and Community Development Centre, 24A West Rd, Moorends.