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50MW solar farm approved on former coal mining site in Durham

This former coal mining site in Durham will been brought back into public energy use after approval for use as a solar farm. Lionheart Public Affairs supported on stakeholder engagement activity for this project.

Durham County Council has granted planning permission for a new 49.9MW solar farm to be built on a former coal mining site in Durham.

A planning application was submitted in February 2023 outlining Bluefield Development’s proposal to build a solar farm on 158 acres of classified Grade 3B pasture land at Bluestone farm, which is currently used for sheep grazing.

Located to the north of Cockfield and south-east of the village of High Lands, the developer confirmed that the current farmer has “agreed to resume sheep grazing around the solar arrays once the plant is operational, removing fears of an impact on food production.”

Although not a planning requirement, the application proposal set out plans to see Bluefield establish a £400,000 community fund which councillor Jonathan Elmer, said was “so important in gaining wider acceptability for these sorts of schemes.”

“We are delighted to have secured planning permission for our Bluestone solar farm project. An area of land that was once used to extract fossil fuels that powered our industrial past, will now be utilised to produce significant and sustainable clean energy for the future,” said Alan Connolly, development director at Bluefield Renewable Development Ltd.

According to Bluefield’s managing director Jonathan Selwyn Bluefield has now secured planning permission for 400MW of solar and battery storage projects – this includes a 49.9MW solar farm, co-located with a 60MW battery energy storage system (BESS) in Northumberland.

“A further 325MW has received planning in conjunction with our development partners,” added Connolly.

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