£2.5m solar farm at A&J Scott sawmill in Wooperton gets the green light
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A&J Scott at Wooperton, near Wooler, applied for permission to build the 4,500-strong solar array on land adjacent to its main sawmills and production facilities.
The solar farm would be used only to power the sawmill itself and would not provide power back to the national grid.
The application was considered by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee on Tuesday.
Speaking at the meeting, A&J Scott managing director Robert Scott said the development would insulate the business from fluctuating energy costs.
He said: “The sawmill has significant energy demands. It has been vital to reduce this cost burden.
“The proposed development would allow us to generate our own electricity, reducing dependency on fossil fuels. No electricity will be exported or sold back to the national grid.
“Energy prices remain incredibly high. While households were being offered some support from the government, businesses received limited support and have to bear the brunt of costs.”
A&J Scott is a family-run business that was established in 1960, and continues to trade from its original location.
Mr Scott told the committee that the outfit employs more than 150 people, as well as supporting more than 100 jobs in the supply chain.
He also pointed out that the development was not in a visually sensitive part of the county.
The site has been earmarked for the production of sand and gravel in the Northumberland Local Plan, but supporting statements said the extraction would not be “economically viable” due to the quality of material and that there was “no commerical interest” in doing so.
The committee were also told that there had been no public objections from residents, while statutory consultees including the flood authority and the county ecologist had not raised concerns either. Following Mr Scott’s submissions, the committee unanimously agreed to support the proposals.
The initial solar panel installation, representing an investment of over £2.5m, will generate 3.5MW of electricity and save almost 1500 tonnes per year of carbon.
This follows a decade in which the business has invested over £25m in new capital equipment.