Pollards Solar Farm – Site Overview, Key Facts and Development Process

The Site

The Proposed Development would be located approximately 800 metres (m) west of the village of The Dicker, 1.6 kilometres (km) east of the village of Chalvington, 2.2 km south of Golden Cross, and 3.7 km west of Hailsham, East Sussex (the Site). The Site is approximately 81.49 hectares (ha) in size and is located within the administrative boundary of Wealden District Council (WDC). The Site boundary is shown below:

Above: Site Location. View a larger version of this map

The Site has been chosen for several reasons including:

  • Solar irradiation levels;
  • Proximity to local population;
  • Topography;
  • Field size / shading;
  • Suitable access for construction;
  • Sited in an area that is free from statutory designations; and
  • Potential for land agreement with landowners.

Key Project Details

The Proposed Development comprises solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that will provide up to a maximum of 49.9 MegaWatts (MW) of power. The proposed Site Layout is shown below:

Above: Site Layout Plan. View a larger version of this map

The Proposed Development will also comprise associated cabling and inverters/transformers; substation compound; and CCTV cameras mounted on poles facing into the Site.

Access to the Site is proposed from the A27 Lewes Road to the south. From the A27, vehicles will travel north on the C39 Station Road/Wick Street towards the Site. Access to the Proposed Development will utilise a shared access route from the C39, adjacent to Batbrooks Farm House and Cuckmere Solar Farm. The route turns northwards into the farmland, running adjacent to the existing field boundary, into the Site.

Above: Site Internal Access Routes. View a larger version of this map

An iterative design process has been undertaken which has resulted in changes to the layout being made since the initial concept design. The design has evolved as a result of discussions with Wealden District Council, stakeholders and local residents. These design changes have resulted in the reduction in the overall size of the scheme, the provision of larger areas of habitat enhancements, revised access routes into the site and a repositioning of the site compound.

Above: Site Designations and Constraints Plan. View a larger version of this map

SPR have considered the following areas which have informed the finalised layout:

  • appropriate buffers to all hedgerows, woodlands, watercourses and waterbodies;
  • incorporation with appropriate buffers of Public Rights of Way;
  • location of Flood Risk Zone 3 (active floodplain);
  • location of existing residential properties;
  • location of heritage assets;
  • existing traffic flows and movements during construction; and
  • visual effects both from adjacent receptors and the South Downs National Park.

Further details of environmental impacts which have been assessed as part of the development process are detailed in Banner 5.

Development and Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process

Feasibility Study: May 2020

A feasibility study was undertaken prior to Screening to understand the constraints of the Site and determine whether it was a viable option for development.

Initial Pre-Application Consultation: October 2020

Information on the Proposed Development was issued to WDC for initial comment at a Pre-Application Meeting.  WDC provided a Pre-application response following the meeting. Comments were taken into consideration in the development of the design.

Onsite and desktop environmental

A leaflet was mailed to all properties within 4 km of the Site introducing the concept of the proposed Development.

Onsite and desktop environmental surveys: ongoing surveys: November 2020 – January 2020

Research to establish what the conditions of the Site are like at present (known as the baseline) has been ongoing since the end of 2020. The results of this will allow the effects of the predicted changes resulting from the Proposed Development to be assessed within the EIA. 

Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Request: January 2021

The process whereby we consulted with various stakeholders and identified what aspects and potential effects of the Proposed Development should be covered within the planning submission.

An Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Report was submitted to WDC in January 2021

Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Opinion: February 2021

WDC issued a Screening Opinion confirming that the Proposed Development required an EIA to be submitted with the planning submission to fully assess potential effects on the environment.

Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Request: March 2021

The process by which SPR consult the Council to determine the environmental aspects to be ‘scoped into’ the Environmental Statement that will accompany the application and elements which can be scoped out of the Environmental Statement. Aspects that are scoped in are those where potentially ‘significant’ environmental impacts might be anticipated. Those that are scoped out would still require assessment following good practice guidelines but may be in supporting technical assessment rather than an EIA Chapter.  

Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping Opinion: May 2021

WDC issued a Scoping Opinion on the 18th May 2021. This agreed with the proposed Scoping Request with respect to the broad contents of the Environmental Statement but also requested that the ZTV was extended to account for other, more distant receptors. They also requested that the Environmental Statement include an assessment of air and dust pollution along with noise and vibration during the construction/decommissioning phase which will be provided within the application submission.

Environmental Impact Assessments: Ongoing

An EIA is an iterative process to optimise the design to achieve balance between site performance and environmental effects.

It is an important part of a solar farm planning process, which involves undertaking environmental surveys of the Site by independent specialists to quantify and identify any significant environmental effects the solar development may have. The EIA for the Proposed Development will assess the potential for effects from the following environmental topics:

  • Heritage Environment;
  • Landscape and Visuals;
  • Ecology and Biodiversity; and

Climate Change. The EIA will be supported by other technical appendices relating to noise, traffic and flood risk. The EIA will also seek to identify measures to eliminate, avoid, reduce or mitigate any potential significant effects, where possible.

Public Consultation: June 2021The current online PIE.  The approach to the virtual PIE was agreed with WDC and is in accordance with the best practice measures undertaken across the UK during the ongoing pandemic.  
Submission of Planning Application: June 2021The application to build and operate the Proposed Development will be submitted to WDC. The application would be classified as a major application under the Planning regulations, due to the site size.  The planning application would be accompanied with a Planning Statement, a Statement of Community Involvement and an Environmental Statement.

Timeline

Pollards Solar Farm 


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