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Endurance Energy renews bid to extend Wickham Hall solar farm into Uttlesford

Plans for a Bishop’s Stortford solar farm straddling the East Herts and Uttlesford border are being pursued with renewed energy.

Endurance Energy will ask Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, to approve a new version of the Uttlesford side of the Wickham Hall scheme directly, bypassing the district council.

The company, which is working with landowner David Harvey on the project, originally earmarked 114 hectares (282 acres) in East Herts, mostly in Albury parish, and 35.77 hectares (88 acres) in Uttlesford, primarily in Farnham.

Wickham Hall, where a solar farm is proposed
Wickham Hall, where a solar farm is proposed

The East Herts application for a 35MW (megawatt) solar farm, 10,000 new trees including woodland and over 2km of new hedgerows was approved by councillors in January 2023 – nine months after their counterparts in Uttlesford refused their portion in April 2022 on Green Belt grounds.

Since then, Endurance Energy has revised the scheme and wants to create a photovoltaic facility in Uttlesford capable of generating 14.9MW of electricity – enough to power over 4,000 homes sustainably each year.

The developer argues the solar farm will contribute towards the UK’s progression to a zero-carbon future as well as help address the climate and ecological emergencies declared by Uttlesford District Council.

Wildflower meadow at Wickham Hall
Wildflower meadow at Wickham Hall

Endurance claims there will be an increase of 216.46% in biodiversity of the land and a 96.57% increase in biodiversity of hedgerows, as measured using Government-approved methods.

Wildflower meadows would be sown and maintained around the solar arrays, providing habitat for pollinator species, while bird and bat boxes would be installed throughout the site.

The plans also include the planting of 5,000 trees, including a new woodland area linking Bloodhounds Wood and Bailey Hills, and over two kilometres of native hedgerow.

A feature of the new proposals is a dedicated wildlife area for residents to enjoy on the east of the site with wildflowers, ponds, scrub and tree planting.

Endurance expects Wickham Hall Solar Farm to operate for 40 years. During this time, the soil will be rested, increasing biodiversity before it returns to agricultural use.

A spokesman for Endurance Energy said: “The solar farm at Wickham Hall is a great opportunity to provide sustainable and renewable energy for years to come at the same time as delivering vital new habitats for a range of wildlife.

“Increasing the proportion of renewable energy is key to helping Uttlesford District Council meet their 2030 carbon neutral target and to deliver significant benefits for wildlife.”

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