An ambitious proposal to transform the landscape between Darlington and Stockton by building a huge solar farm has been unveiled.
Stretching from Brafferton, off the A167 near Darlington, to the north east of Bishopton, the Byers Gill Solar Farm plans have been drawn up to generate energy for around 70,000 homes.
The proposed solar farm would connect into the existing National Grid substation at Norton, on the outskirts of Stockton, with underground cables running into the substation.
Land around Great Stainton has also been identified for development, however not all the areas shown on the initial site plan will be used for solar panels, applicant JBM Solar says.
The project will have a lifespan of 40 years, after which the land will be returned to its former state. During its operation, the land can still be used for agricultural activities such as grazing.
JBM Solar has consulted parish councils and local authorities on its early proposals, with more detailed information planned for later this year. It insists its proposals will be informed by local feedback and its team will “listen, learn, and where appropriate, amend the designs, to ensure local feedback is incorporated”.
Byers Gil Solar will generate over 50MW of electricity – the equivalent energy needs of around 70,000 homes.
Michael Baker, Project Manager for JBM said: “We would like to thank all stakeholders who took time to attend our workshops and provide us with feedback on the project at this early stage. Their local knowledge and suggestions will help us to refine our design before we present our proposals to the wider public next year.”
The application is expected to be submitted in Autumn 2023, with a final decision made in early 2025.