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Solar Farm Plan For Heathrow

19 March 2014

Costain is seeking planning permission to develop a solar farm on disused land north of Heathrow, which could generate 5.5 Megawatt of energy, enough to power around 1,650 homes.

The 37-acre site, which Costain has owned since the early 1960s, is located near Sipson Road and Holloway Lane in the London Borough of Hillingdon. Originally used for gravel extraction, it was subsequently leased in 1966 to the Greater London Council who used it for landfilling refuse and excavated material. The land was sealed and reinstated in 1972 before being returned to Costain.

Due to its poor state, the land has since been unused and undeveloped. However, the publication and updating of the National Planning Policy Framework means a solar farm could be a viable proposition, not least in providing green energy to the local area.

As part of the Framework, local planning authorities are now being encouraged to develop and promote energy from renewable sources and design policies to maximise renewable developments.  That includes identifying suitable areas for renewable resources, supporting community-led renewable initiatives and helping to identify opportunities where development can draw energy supply from decentralised energy systems.

The green energy produced will be fed into the grid locally to supply power to the area. Also, due to the condition of the site, the plan is to enhance the environment through extensive planting which will improve the visual aspect of the site.

"A number of projects have been looked at over the years but none of them were viable. We believe the solar farm ticks all the boxes. The intention is to seek planning permission to develop a solar farm which will not only generate green renewable energy but also enhance the site's poor biodiversity and ecology," said Ian Shervell of Costain's Investments Team.

As part of the planning process, Costain is hosting two public consultations in the nearby villages of Harmonsworth and Sipson, on the 25th and 27th March, respectively. The consultation events are intended to seek views and opinions from the local residential and business communities on the proposals.

If approved, the project is expected to take three months to build and have a life of approximately 30 years, after which the solar farm will be removed.