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Solar farm planned for former Staffordshire Moorlands quarry

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: June 19, 2014

The former Sibelco quarry near Whiston which has now been demolished.

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PROPOSALS to build a solar farm on part of a former Staffordshire Moorlands quarry went on public display last week.

The Solar Building Company Limited based in Monmouth outlined their plans to build the farm at Moneystone Quarry near Whiston.

The site would extend to 13 hectares (32 acres) and would generate approximately 8.5 MWp of electricity equivalent to powering around 1,824 homes.

The fate of the quarry, which was owned by Sibelco UK and had been operational for more than 50 years, was sealed in August 2007 after expansion plans were thrown out.

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Silica sand extraction at the site, which covers 420 acres, came to end in 2010 and the premises closed in 2011 with the loss of 70 jobs.

The site was bought in 2010 by Laver Resorts for an undisclosed sum with the intention of constructing a tourist attraction with holiday lodges.

Attractions proposed included sailing, canoeing, fishing and other water sports, mountain biking courses, cycle paths, nature trails, climbing and archery around the site.

The latest solar farm proposal would involve two part of the site, one either side of the highway which divides the quarry.

Technical director of The Solar Building Company, Dr Clive Weatherby, said: "We have sites all around the country. There was a big demand for power at the former quarry so the site has its own sub station which makes it easier to connected to the National Grid.

"Wiring from the north side area would be taken under the road down to the sub station. The second site would be near to the sub station.

"The surfaces would be laid with soil and seeded to give a green area. A pond which it is believed to have Crested Newts would be left. The area is very well screened.

"We would rent the land from Lavers and the system would be monitored by the internet.

"There would only be traffic for the three months of construction work.

"After this there will be no traffic other than if anything broke down, then an engineer would visit the site in a van.

"Months of work have gone into this including ground study and environmental issue.

"Following the exhibition, we will take back all comments to see if it needs tweaking.

"A full planning application will then be submitted to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in July.

"If approved work would start this year and the site operation be fore next Spring."

Peter Swallow from Laver Leisure said they were now proposing a leisure scheme on a smaller scale than original envisaged.

He said "Following the adoption of the Churnet Valley Masterplan by Staffordshire Moorlands Council, we have been working on our leisure proposals for Moneystone Quarry.

"We consulted with the community on the various ideas contained in our initial sketch plans in 2011, and have taken on board many of the comments made.

"A leisure scheme is now proposed which is of a smaller scale than that originally envisaged, with around 250 lodges.

"We have removed certain elements from the original drafts; by way of example, we are no longer proposing any new housing development or plots for touring caravans.

"The plans which are being launched by the Solar Building Company complement the evolving leisure scheme proposals and the renewable energy scheme is accommodated on those areas of the quarry that we no longer intend to use for the leisure project.

"When the leisure scheme designs reach the appropriate stage, we will publicise our new plans and hold a further public consultation."

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