24/04/2023 - Permalink

Helpful new guidance on solar farms development for town councils and parish councils

Related topics: Climate change / environment / Partner organisations / Planning

A new guidance document to help Shropshire’s town councils and parish councils begin early engagement with potential solar farm developers has been issued. 

Shropshire Council and Shropshire Association of Local Councils (SALC), which represents town councils and parish councils, have jointly prepared new guidance to encourage interested parties to begin productive discussion and engagement in areas where larger-scale solar farms are being explored. 

The guidance relates to proposals for commercial ground-mounted solar schemes, and includes a number of key principles to help local communities to maximise the benefits which may be offered by prospective developers. These may include funding, local bio-diversity or heritage improvements, and improved access to the countryside. 

It also suggests town councils and parish councils should start from a baseline level of £500 per installed megawatt, paid for 40 years, in terms of calculating the financial value of community benefits. 

Planning applications for new solar farms will be determined by Shropshire Council as the local planning authority using current national and local planning policy and guidance.  

Whilst community benefits can be relevant when planning is considered, an agreement between the developer and a local council can’t be given any weight in the planning decision unless the national legal tests for planning obligations are met.


Ian Nellins, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for climate change, environment and transport, said:-

“This guidance is designed to help local councils and prospective developers find a way to negotiate the development of solar farms as smoothly as possible. 

“It is important that developers and landowners engage with communities and local councils as early as possible, whether it is to identify community benefits, or plan site works in advance, such as planting screening around their sites ahead of any development.

“Developing more sustainable energy sources is something we are committed to as we work towards our goal of achieving net zero by 2030, and it is important that we work in partnership to achieve this.
The energy used in buildings and for travel generates much of our current carbon footprint, and it is essential that this is supplied from low carbon, renewable sources as soon as possible if we are to be able to address the risk of climate change. Our commitment to these ambitions has also recently been reinforced by significant concerns about energy prices and energy security.” 


Further information

Shropshire Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019 and adopted a Climate Strategy and Action Plan in 2020 with the objective of Shropshire Council achieving net-zero carbon performance by 2030. This target date has also been adopted by many local councils and by the community-led ‘Zero Carbon Shropshire’ for the county as a whole.  

The Marches Local Economic Partnership adopted an Energy Strategy in 2018 which established a target of 50% of local power demand being met by local renewables by 2030. Achieving this target will require a significant expansion of renewable energy generation from both roof-mounted solar panels and ground-mounted solar farms.