Landscape and Visual
The Site does not fall within any statutory or non-statutory landscape designations; the nearest landscape designated site being South Downs National Park which is located approximately 4.7km to the south of the Site.
The Site lies within a low lying, gently undulating landform with a mosaic of fields frequently with mature tree hedgerow within a rural setting. The majority of the Site has been under wheat production with rough grassland margins.
Pollards Wood Ancient Woodland is found adjacent to the Site and a number of Public Rights of Way PRoW) exist within and around the Site.
The visual effect on the wider landscape and visual receptors will be limited. The Site would be discernible from the higher parts of South Downs National Park to the south. However, the visibility of the Proposed Development would be distant occupying a small proportion of panoramic views from the National Park and views filtered by surrounding hedgerows, small woods and landform.
Above: View across land proposed as Pollards Solar Farm from Public Right of Way
SPR have assessed the development from multiple viewpoints in the locality. This enabled SPR to understand the visual implications of the scheme from close and distant viewpoints to ensure the development is designed to minimise visual effects. The area of the surrounding landscape that would be theoretically visible from the Site (known as the Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV)) is shown on the figure below.
Above: Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV) and Viewpoint Locations. View a larger version of this map.
The table below lists the viewpoints (VPs) from which the visual impacts of the Site have be considered to date.
View Point Description
Users of PRoW Footpath Claverham Manor FP 12a looking north towards the Application Site near distance
Users of PRoW Footpath 44, 530m south east of Marnhull Farm looking south towards the Application Site – near distance
Users of PRoW Footpath 12b near Wick Farm with in the Application Site and looking north and west – near distance
Users of local road Deanland Rd near Deanland Wood Park looking east towards the Application Site – mid distance
Users of PRoW RUPP on Wealden Way east of Bopeep Farm looking north towards the Application site – long distance
Users of PRoW footpath 8, south west of Upper Dicker looking west towards the Application Site – near distance
Users of PRoW footpath 41 within north west part of the Application Site, looking eastwards towards the rest of the Site - near distance
PRoW footpath part of the Vanguard Way looking south east towards the Application Site – near distance
Users of PRoW footpath Fowlers Barn - north Ripe looking eastwards towards the Application Site – mid distance
Users of PRoW footpath Cuckmere Way jnc with Common lane, looking north towards the Application Site – long distance
Users of PRoW footpath north of Arlington looking westwards towards the Application Site – mid distance
Users of PRoW footpath between Upper Dicker and Marnhull Farm House looking south towards the Application Site – near distance
South Downs Way near Bopeep car park looking north towards the Application site – long distance
Bostal Hill viewpoint off the South Downs Way – looking north towards the Application Site – long distance
Tumuli near Loose Plantation viewpoint off the South Downs Way looking north towards the Application Site – long distance
Firle Beacon - landmark viewpoint on the South Downs Way looking north towards the Application Site – long distance
Long Man of Wilmington - landmark viewpoint on the South Downs Way looking north towards the Application Site – long distance
The retention of existing hedgerows, vegetation and additional planting will help mitigate against visual effects.
Above – Landscape Plan. View a larger version of this map
As part of the planning application submission, a Landscape and Visual Assessment has been included within the ES.
Biodiversity, Ornithology and Nature
Understanding the potential for a development to impact on habitats, birds and other species is an important part of scheme design. These have been reported within the Planning Application submission.
- Undertaken a series of desk-based studies to identify existing records of species and habutats;
- Undertaken baseline ecological surveys on site for protected species and habitats; and
- Undertaken baseline ornithological surveys.
The Site does not overlap with any statutory designated sites of nature conservation interest. The closest such site is Arlington Reservoir Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Nature Reserve (LNR) which is an important ornithological designation, located approximately 0.9 km to the south of the Site. The habitats on Site are dominated by intensively farmed arable fields with grassland buffers bounded by hedgerows and ditches. There are several woodland blocks and ponds also across the Site. Mature trees are present in the hedgerows and pasture fields.
The following protected and priority species have been surveyed:
- Three mature trees identified as being suitable for bat roosts. All potential habitat is being retained and will be protected during the construction and operation of the Proposed Development;
- Evidence of two badger setts, where one entrance was in active use;
- No signs of water vole were noted in the ditches within the Site;
- Environmental DNA (eDNA) testing for the presence of Great Crested Newts (GCN) was undertaken in each of the suitable on-site ponds. Two ponds on-site with water tested positive for GCN; and
- Survey confirmed that the hedgerows, mature trees, scrub and woodland have value for a range of breeding and wintering bird species. Given the low species diversity and small number of any individual species present, the breeding and wintering bird assemblage is of low sensitivity.
What we propose to do
SPR will mitigate impacts on ecology in a variety of ways, these include:
- retaining the higher value habitat with appropriate buffers. The high value habitat include woodland, pods, trees and hedgerows;
- existing field accesses will be used where possible for internal roads;
- all works to wildlife habitats will be appropriately licensed and any necessary mitigation included in the project;
- protected species will be similarly protected during works either via timing of activities or through appropriate buffer zones; and
- A Landscape and Ecology Mitigation and Management Plan (LEMMP) will be prepared prior to construction setting out how potential impacts to ecology will be mitigated.
The Proposed Development will provide significant ecological enhancement through the inclusion of more diverse grasslands (seed mix for the grassland beneath the panels), strengthening of hedgerow corridors and planting of new scrub/woodland habitat across the Site.
Full details of the ecological impact, any necessary mitigation, along with enhancement has been provided in the Environmental Statement submitted as part of the planning application.
Approximately 15% of the Site will be dedicated to habitat enhancement. In total, there will be three fields allocated to habitat creation at the following locations:
- Land south of Sheepcote Lane;
- Field immediately east of Claverham Manor; and
- Area located north of Pollards Wood.
The Proposed Development will ensure a net gain for biodiversity compared with the current, agricultural baseline. This will include the provision of new meadow grassland across the Site, areas of tussock grassland along field margins and infilling of gaps in any hedgerows or tree lines. The habitat enhancement areas will include additional patches of dense scrub, woodland planting and pond creation. The biodiversity enhancement mix was specifically chosen to address a number of factors including to:
- Improve biodiversity of current agricultural fields by enhancing habitats of importance
- Minimise landscape and visual impacts on residential receptors;
- Improve flooding on Site;
- Enhance setting for those using Core Paths.
Development will lead to a range of beneficial effects on species, in the long term for great crested newts, bats, dormice, breeding birds and wintering birds and badgers.
Geology, Hydrology and Hydrogeology
Our understanding of the ground conditions and surface water network has informed the site design and layout. We want to ensure that the potential effects of the Proposed Development on hydrology and related habitats and species are considered holistically, and that negative impacts on ground and surface water are minimised.
- Undertaken surveys and desk assessments to understand the hydrological conditions at the Site to inform the design and to minimise the risk of fluvial and surface water flooding;
- Undertaken a Water Quality Assessment, to assess the wider hydrological and hydrogeological impacts on the sites in accordance to a screening methodology as dictated by the Water Framework Directive; and
- Identified the location of private water supplies near the Site and the potential for flooding from Site watercourses.
In addition to the main hydrological components of precipitation/rainfall, surface water runoff and infiltration/percolation, we have identified the watercourses flowing through the site and along its boundary (Wick Street Stream and its tributary), and the outline of their floodplain during the design flood events. This allows us to understand the flood mechanisms within the Site, to define the extent of the floodplain associated with the watercourses running along the Site boundaries and through the Site, and to identify surface water runoff flow paths.
What we propose to do
During the construction phase, pollution of watercourses will be prevented through a range of good practices, such as the use of silt traps, settlement ponds and cut off drains. This is to ensure that water quality of watercourses, such as Wick Street Stream and its tributaries as well as Cuckmere River, are protected and maintained. A culvert will be constructed where the proposed access road crosses the tributary of Wick Street Stream, downstream of Lower Claverham Farm. The culvert will be sized appropriately to convey the flow unobstructed further downstream and in accordance with the Environment Agency's Flood Event requirements.
In addition, any existing field or tile drainage system would be restored where affected by construction. The results of the Flood Risk Assessment have been submitted as part of the planning application.
As part of the Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP), it’s likely that a Pollution Prevention Plan will be adopted to prevent the likelihood of adverse impact.
SPR have undertaken a desk-based review to identify all known heritage assets within the Site, and all heritage assets in the vicinity of the Site that may be affected by a change within their setting. A walk-over of the site has also been undertaken.
Whilst there are no designated heritage assets (such as listed buildings, scheduled monuments or conservations areas) within the Site, there are a number of such assets present within the vicinity (300 m) of the Site, including one scheduled monument and several listed buildings:
- Claverham Manor moated site – Scheduled Monument;
- Claverham Manor – Grade II listed building;
- No. 3 Wick Street – Grade II listed building;
- Candle Cottage – Grade II listed building;
- Wick Street Farmhouse – Grade II listed building;
- Lower Claverham Farmhouse – Grade II listed building; and
- Mount Pleasant Farmhouse – Grade II listed building.
What we propose to do
SPR have reviewed the design of the Proposed Development in order to eliminate or minimise any harm that could be caused to designated heritage assets as a result of the change within their setting caused by the construction and operation of the Proposed Development. This has resulted in the removal of solar panels the Site and the relocation of the proposed substation so that it is further away from Claverham Manor.
The results of these surveys and desk-based review informs the Heritage Chapter as part of the Environmental Statement submitted with the planning application.
Above – Heritage Asset Plan. View a larger version of this map
Transport and Access
Undertaken an assessment of the potential impacts on access, traffic, and the local transport network, in relation to both the construction and the operation of the Proposed Development.
We have also undertaken a desk-based review to identify amenities that may be affected by the Proposed Development.
There were a number of possible accesses and construction routes to the Proposed Development, with construction vehicles able to route south from the A22 or north from the A27.
The access choices have been considered in relation to the possible construction route together with the connection point to the local highway network, internal routing from the local highway network and minimising impacts on residential properties as much as practicably possible. In determining possible accesses local infrastructure, route constraints, sensitive receptors, junction constraints and management measures have been considered. The assessments have identified that the existing access to Lower Claverham Farm adjacent to Batsbrook Farmhouse offers the best means of access from the public highway.
A PRoW runs through the northern part of the Site from the north western boundary to Pollardss wood on the north eastern boundary (Arlington 8, Chalvington with Ripe 5, 39 and 40). A second PRoW is located within the south part of the Site adjacent to Wickstreet Farm (Arlington 12b). On the north western boundary, the Vanguard Way recreational route (Chalvington with Ripe 42) runs along the track between Mount Pleasant Farm and Selmeston Croft.
What we propose to do
We have produced a report detailing access together with analysis of the local network and operational and construction movements. In order to minimise the impact on local road users, prior to commencing construction, a Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) would be produced in agreement with Wealden District Council and East Sussex County Council and detail any potential traffic management measures. These measures will include but not limited to the following:
- During construction, the PRoW that passes through the site (Arlington 8, Chalvington with Ripe 5, 39 and 40) would be temporarily diverted to avoid any conflict with the construction site and activities;
- Any diversion would be undertaken in accordance with details to be approved by the Local Planning Authority/statutory bodies;
- Any diversion would be well signposted and access to the construction site would be prohibited to the public in line with construction site health and safety measures; and
- Any diversion of the PRoW would be removed upon completion and the existing route would be reinstated. The route would be fenced on either side to ensure safety of the public as they pass through the Proposed Development; and
- Ground preparation, including protection of services and arrangements for road maintenance, wheel washing and road sweeping where necessary.
The project would not require the long-term diversion of any PRoWs, therefore, it is not anticipated that the project would result in significant effects to the users of the PRoWs.
Emissions, Air Quality and Climate Change
There are no adverse emissions to air or land associated with operation of any part of the Proposed Development.
Noise and Vibration
The Development is not considered to present a significant impact arising from noise and vibration.
SPR has undertaken two five-day baseline sound level surveys at locations agreed with WDC to understand noise implications at the nearest residential dwellings to the Proposed Development. The data obtained has been used to inform an assessment of potential noise impacts during the operational of the Proposed Development and was included as part of the submitted Planning Application. The assessment has been undertaken with reference to National and Local planning policy and guidance and in accordance with recognised British Standards.
Solar PV and BESS facilities of the type proposed do not generate significant noise during their operation. Effects would be minimised by the adoption of mitigation measures and following construction best practice standards, as identified in the CEMP.
The fields surveyed to date (the majority) are all of the lower Sub-grade 3b, typical of heavy textured Weald Clay soils.
Although the soil within the Site is of a lower quality with respect to its use for agriculture, the process of developing the Site into a solar farm will retain the topsoil and, once built, would improve the quality of the land through restorative works.
Health and Safety
There are no significant risks to human health identified in the context of the operation of the Proposed Development. Construction and operation will be compliant with all applicable Health and Safety Legislation (HSAWA1974, COSHH2012, CDM2015, etc.).
The construction is unlikely to generate significant quantities of waste materials.
Waste management will be further addressed within a future CEMP for the site.
Glint and Glare
Glint and Glare (i..e potential reflections from the solar arrays) will be assessed as part of the planning application, and the impact this could have on local users and aviation quantified. No significant impact is expected.
Resources and Socioeconomics
During construction temporary construction compound and equipment laydown areas will be required. These areas will be replaced with solar panels towards the end of the construction period.
The Proposed Development will benefit local employment and will provide a wider service benefit to the local and wider economy by offering efficient green energy.