MORE THAN 60 hectares of farmland in the Green Belt west of York look set to become a solar farm supplying 50MW of power, enough to serve up to 13,000 homes.

Planners recommend approval for the scheme from London-based Hessay Solar Ltd because the claimed environmental benefits in terms of reduced carbon emissions are said to outweigh the harm of developing in the Green Belt and its impact on the landscape.

The location for the scheme is south of Low Moore Lane, Hessay, between Hessay and Rufforth, adjoining the western boundary of the former waste site at Harewood Whin.

The land is presently a mix of arable and cattle pasture of low and medium quality, says a report prepared for next Thursday’s (Feb 8) meeting of City of York Council’s planning committee.


The planned PV arrays would be on lightweight frames 3.2-4.8m apart and surrounded by a 2.6m mesh fence. If approved, they would be up for 40 years before decommissioning.

The officers’ report notes Hessay Parish Council opposes the planned scheme due to the noise pollution it would cause during its 8 months of construction, the harm to aviation safety from glint and glare at nearby Rufforth airfield, and harm to the character of the Green Belt and the Local landscape.

York Press: A view of the siteA view of the site (Image: Planning documents)

The countryside charity, CPRE, also opposed the scheme on landscape and Green Belt grounds.

Similarly, 28 letters of objection raised such concerns over the landscape and Green Belt, plus the loss of food production, along with fears over aviation safety.

Council planners noted the site had no special designations and was not really visible from a distance but the scheme would create “significant harm to landscape character.”

The scheme had been amended to make it less dense in appearance, they continued, and changes had been made to the south-east of the site to minimise impact on flying aircraft.

The planners said the proposed development is “is inappropriate in the Green Belt by virtue of harm to its openness both in the visual and spatial senses.”

However, they concluded, “However, subject to appropriate conditions the proposal is felt to be acceptable in terms of flood risk and drainage, aviation safety, biodiversity, residential amenity and transportation and access.”

Ther report added: “It is felt that the clear environmental benefits when put in the context of the declared climate emergency of generation of a significant quantity of renewable energy outweighs the harm to the openness of the Green Belt and the localised harm to the adjoining landscape character. The proposal is therefore felt to be acceptable in planning terms and approval is recommended.”