Solar Farm, County Durham


Lightsource bp


Up to 49.9MW




Hartlepool Borough Council and Durham County Council

Five Appeals Allowed In Association With A New Solar Farm In County Durham

Key Project Information

  • A new solar farm creating enough clean energy to power over 13,000 homes
    resulting in approximately 20,558 fewer tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK each year.
  • Heard in the courts to determine that the schemes did not constitute a “nationally significant infrastructure project” together with another solar farm at Hulam, and so could be determined by the Planning Inspector
  • Won on appeal after Inspector agreed that the landscape and visual impact of the solar farm was localised, limited and acceptable in the planning balance when weighed against the imperative to tackle climate change.

We project managed the submission of five planning applications associated with a major new solar farm with the capacity to power over 13,000 homes.

We prepared the planning case, representing the appellant at the appeal and giving evidence as expert witnesses.

Challenges Overcome

The local planning authority refused the solar farm (and its associated underground infrastructure) on the grounds that it represented inappropriate development in the open countryside that would harm the character of the rural area.

However, as the appeal opened in November 2022, the borough and county councils took the view that the proposals represented a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP) together with another solar farm at Hulam, and should have required development consent from the Secretary of State for Energy and Net Zero, rather than planning permission via planning applications and appeals under the Town and Country Planning Act.

The appeal was adjourned to allow the councils to issue a challenge to the courts.

The case was heard in the High Court in May 2023 and in June the judges determined that the proposals did not comprise an NSIP and could be determined by the Inspector through the appeal route.

Once the appeal reconvened in October 2023, we worked hard to demonstrate the proposals would not unacceptably harm the character and appearance of the surrounding area. We also argued that the significant benefits, ie the generation of clean energy to help decarbonise the country, outweighed the localised harm to landscape character.

The inspector agreed with us. She confirmed that our proposed landscape mitigation scheme would ensure that, over time, the solar farm would be increasingly mitigated as planting matures.