Snowdown Colliery Solar Park, Kent
Renewable Energy Development
Services: Planning Co-ordination, Ecology & LVIA
The Landmark Practice worked with developer BNRG Renewables and Dover District Council to bring forward a solar PV scheme at Snowdown Colliery in Kent against the background of major changes in Government policy around deployment of solar PV development. The Landmark Practice’s ecologists and landscape architects provided technical support to the application.
The Snowdown Colliery development was considered to be an ideal use for a brownfield site where there is no likelihood of any other development coming forward in the foreseeable future. Coal mining at the colliery ceased in the late 1980s, since when no other commercially viable use had been found. Since cessation of works a range of succession habitats had developed and a suite of ecology surveys, including specialist lichen, bryophyte and fungi assessments were therefore undertaken to support the application scheme.
The site was well screened and will be scarcely, if at all, visible from any public views. The solar farm site was selected to ensure separation from existing heritage assets and there will be no harm to their setting. No highway objections were raised and a Construction Management Plan submitted with the application was framed to ensure that the development is carried out in a responsible and safe manner. All other detailed matters are addressed through conditions.
The successful grant of development consent for a solar park was certainly atypical of decisions since the ministerial announcement of 25 March 2015 (by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government). The application was supported by a local MP and, as well as managing the planning application, Landmark planners worked alongside BNRG to promote the value of the Snowdown application scheme to DECC, in response to the consultation on further Government funding cuts to solar PV.
The layout was driven by the need to maximise solar gain whilst avoiding identified areas of ecological interest. The scheme was recommended for approval by officers and planning permission was granted in late January with unanimous support from council members.