The Development comprises solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that will provide up to 49.9 MW of power.
Above: Down Barn Farm Solar Development Site Location Plan
In January 2022, ScottishPower Renewables (SPR) acquired the Down Barn Farm Solar PV project from Lightsource BP as part of a portfolio of 17 projects with a combined capacity of more than 800 MW. The portfolio will be the largest to be delivered in the UK’s post-subsidy market, demonstrating the key role that solar PV combined with storage will play in the UK’s future generation mix, providing flexible and competitive renewable energy.
The Down Barn Farm Solar PV project would consist of solar panels arranged in rows and it is expected that the panels would collectively have enough low carbon electricity to power approximately 16,936 homes every year.
The Down Barn Farm Solar PV project is located approximately 850 m north of Cholderton and 4.5 km northeast of Amesbury in Wiltshire, England (National Grid Reference SU 22060 43408).
The total site area is approximately 93.7 hectares (ha) and is bound by the A303 directly to the south, with access to the A338 to the east.
The Site is located within the administrative boundary of Wiltshire Council and is within Cholderton Parish Council.
Development Description & Project History
The Down Barn Farm Solar PV Project was consented in April 2020 for ground mounted solar PV panels and the creation of an electricity substation. The approved scheme is for 49.9MWac with ancillary infrastructure for a 40-year operational period after which time it will be either removed and the land reinstated.
The solar array will cover an area of approximately 70.40 ha and will connect to the grid via an onsite 132 kV substation with loop in / loop out tower connection into the existing Andover to Amesbury overhead line.
The Site will be accessed via the A303 where there is direct access to the site via Down Barn Farm Road, which is a shared access with industrial buildings and routes over the A303 via a single-track bridge.
A Site Layout Plan can be viewed here along with associated constraints on site. A Technical Layout can be viewed here.
SPR completed the acquisition of Down Barn Farm Solar PV Project in January 2022. Since this time, SPR have been drafting material to support pre-commencement planning conditions. Construction is programmed to commence in Q1 2024.
Design Considerations & Evolution
Currently SPR are working on design stages of the 132 / 33kV DNO point of connection and substation works. Site investigation works are due to commence early 2023. Further details on the finalised design will be available prior to commencement of construction.
Site Enhancements / Key benefits
In addition to the generation of renewable energy, the Down Barn Farm Solar PV Project will provide a number of other benefits including:
- Gaps in the existing vegetation will be infilled or reinforced, where necessary, with appropriate native tree or shrub planting to enhance the visual screening of the site. Existing external dense hedgerows on site and those along the Byway to the south of the site will be managed and maintained to heights of up to 3m;
- Minimum of 10 bird boxes and 10 bat boxes will be erected on mature and semi-mature trees located along field boundaries;
- Grassland will be maintained by sheep grazing, thereby retaining an agricultural use of the land with wildflower grassland species planted throughout;
- A sustainable drainage strategy, involving the implementation of SuDS in the form of swales, will manage the disposal of surface water runoff; and
- Implementation and management of bespoke landscape planting plan focusing on native species.
The above benefits introduce enhanced biodiversity potential to the site and its immediate surroundings whilst maintaining continued agricultural use on site. As such, effects on ground condition as the site will be restored and returned to its current agricultural state with the addition of biodiversity enhancements 40 years after first export of electricity.
The Planting Plan can be viewed here.