Lighthouse all set to go solar

Plans to install solar panels to power the former home of Farne Islands heroine Grace Darling have received the green light.

Trinity House, the custodians of Longstone lighthouse, have been given listed building consent to place 27 solar panels on the nearby accommodation block.

The work had been pencilled in for next May, but concerns were raised by the National Trust and Natural England about the impact on the bird-breeding season.

As a result, the works will now take place between mid-August and the end of September, which will also avoid any conflict with the seal-breeding season.

Hannah Brumfitt, planning officer at Northumberland County Council, said: “The risk of encountering nesting birds or other protected species in connection with the execution of the proposed works is low, providing that the timing condition is closely followed, but there is a small risk that individual animals may be encountered during works.

“In the unlikely event of protected species such as nesting birds being encountered during development then works should cease immediately and professional advice should be sought.”

The original plan was to have a vertical-axis wind turbine and solar panels mounted on the walls of the Grade II-listed lighthouse, but these were shelved on the advice of council planners.

The new plan would see the solar panels installed at 10 degrees to the horizontal so that they do not protrude above the parapet wall.

“It is our opinion that from a distance from sea level the solar arrays will not be noticeable,” said Thomas Arculus, estates and property manager for Trinity House.

The lighthouse is currently powered by diesel generators running full time. In future these will only be used to supplement the site generated solar power.

The lighthouse is most famous as the scene of the Forfarshire wreck of 1838 when Grace Darling and her father carried out their rescue.