UK business Hive Energy was optimistic that its preliminary application to install an 8000-panel solar farm at the Essex-based Sandon Quarry would win the community over – despite the fact that all planning requests put forward for the site’s rehabilitation over the last 20 years had been rejected.
Past proposals for the Brett Group-operated site included a waste plant, incinerator and a 66,000-panel solar farm, which was reportedly denied because it was too large for the UK’s electricity network to manage.
According to Hive Energy, the main attraction of the smaller-scale proposal, which would span about 4ha of the quarry, was the solar farm’s potential to generate two megawatts of electricity – said to be enough to power 600 homes – and reduce CO2 emissions by about 800 tonnes per year.
However, Hive Energy commercial director Tim Purbrick claimed the solar farm would have additional benefits for the community beyond energy generation. “Integral to our planning for the site would be the installation of beehives and bat boxes and the planting of hedgerows and wildflowers,” he said.
Toni Speakman, a resident of the community that was interviewed by the Essex Chronicle commented, “If it’s going to be solar panels, that is far better than becoming a landfill site. I reckon the [Chelmsford] village would be far more in favour of that.”
Brett Group estates and security manager Noel Beamish also confirmed to the local newspaper that the company was in discussion with Hive Energy but said the future of the quarry site had not yet been decided.
If approved, the solar farm could be operational by the end of the year.