Access to Wrekin and local environment set to bloom under solar farm plan
Access to walking routes around the Wrekin could be made easier for Shropshire residents thanks to a green energy project that will also provide wildflower meadows, hedgerows and wildlife habitats on a former coalmining site.
The new solar farm proposal on the former open cast coalmine at New Works has been specifically designed to incorporate wildflowers meadows to the existing pasture as well as provide protected habitat for wildlife.
The plans also include additional permissive walking and cycling routes to the surrounding woodlands and additional parking at the small car park at New Works Lane.
Developers behind the New Works Solar Farm have been working with residents, community and walking groups on the plans to enable public access around the solar farm, which will be home to grazing sheep, wild deer and wildflower meadows, designed to enhance the biodiversity of the area, which is currently in use as low quality farmland.
Biodiversity plans include creation of a dedicated beehive meadow and the introduction of bird boxes for wrens, robins and other small native birds.
Planner James Jenkison, of solar energy company Greentech, said: “As well as generating 28,500 MWh per year in renewable electricity, enough to power 8,650 homes, this project will bring a number of other benefits to the local area.
“We’ve listened closely to what the community has told us and then pro-actively put into place a range of proposals that address their concerns.
“This includes providing 10 acres of open spaces next to the public footpath network by removing the existing stock fencing and this can be used as a picnic and viewing area for the local wildlife, which can be expected to use the solar farm itself as a habitat with limited human disturbance.
“As well as increasing the size of the small car park at New Works Lane, we’ve included a new permissive path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders, which will run from Dawley Road and link up with several other existing footpaths, bridleways and byways.
Greentech, which is recognised for its partnership approach to developing solar schemes that enhance green space for communities, is urging residents to formally support the planning application which will be heard by Telford & Wrekin councillors in the next few weeks.
Mr Jenkison added: “We want to be able to progress with all these added benefits for residents and users of the countryside surrounding the Wrekin, especially by making the countryside more accessible in what is a valuable area to the region.
“We recognise that there are people who oppose the sustainable clean energy use proposed for this former mining site, but we’d urge them to consider that the wider benefits it brings are hugely positive both for the environment and the locality.”
Residents are being urged to visit newworks.green-future.energy and click on Support Us, which links to the Telford & Wrekin planning portal to register their support.