The Proposed Development comprises solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that will provide up to a maximum of 49.9 MegaWatts (MW) of power onto the grid network and the Proposed Development Site (Known as the Site) is approximately 81.5 hectares (ha) ( approx. 201 acres).
Above: Site Location. View a larger version of this map
The Proposed Development Site lies within a low lying, gently undulating landform with a mosaic of fields and mature tree hedgerow within a rural setting. The majority of the Site has been under wheat production with rough grassland margins, waterbodies and field drains. The Site is adjacent to Pollards Wood Ancient Woodland and a number of Public Rights of Way (PRoW) exist within and around the Site.
Site Selection and Design
The following factors fed into the selection of this site:
- Solar irradiation levels;
- Proximity to local population;
- Field size / shading;
- Suitable access for construction;
- Sited in an area that is free from statutory designations; and
- Potential for land agreement with landowners.
SPR has taken into consideration the following factors which have informed the layout being proposed:
- Appropriate buffers to all hedgerows, woodlands, watercourses and waterbodies;
- Public Rights of Way (PRoW);
- Location of Flood Risk Zone 3 (active floodplain);
- Location of existing residential properties;
- Location of heritage assets;
- existing traffic flows and vehicle movements during construction; and
- visual effects both from adjacent receptors (such as residential properties and PRoW) and the South Downs National Park.
These are explored in more detail in the section titled ‘Environmental Considerations’.
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.
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 surveys: September 2020 – April 2021
Establish site conditions known as the baseline. This enables the effects of the predicted changes from the Proposed Development to be assessed within the EIA.
Environmental Impact Assessment Screening Request: January 2021
The process to outline effects of the Proposed Development to be covered within the planning submission.
An EIA 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
SPR consulted WDC to determine the environmental aspects to be ‘scoped into and out’ of the Environmental Statement that accompanied the planning application. Aspects ‘scoped in’ are those where potentially ‘significant’ environmental impact might be anticipated. Aspects ‘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, agreeing with the proposed Scoping Request and providing additional requests for SPR to address.|
Public Consultation (online event): June 2021
A virtual online PIE event was held in June 2021, with the approach agreed with WDC, following the best practice measures undertaken across the UK during the COVID19 pandemic.
|Submission of Planning Application: Autumn 2021||The application to build and operate the Proposed Development has been submitted to WDC. The application is classified as a Major application under the Planning regulations, due to the site size. The planning application is accompanied with a Planning Statement, a Statement of Community Involvement and an Environmental Statement, with supporting Technical Assessments.|
|Public Consultation (face-to-face): December 2021|
SPR held a post submission PIE event on the 6th December 2021. This PIE was to engage with the local communities in relation to the Proposed Development and to capture further comments and feedback.
The Proposed Development
The Proposed Development will consist of a Solar PV Farm, a substation and associated equipment along with internal access tracks and areas of habitat enhancements.
Above: Site Layout Plan. View a larger version of this map
An iterative design process has been undertaken which has resulted in changes to the sites area and layout being made since the initial concept design. The design has evolved as a result of discussions with WDC, 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.
Solar PV Farm
The Proposed Development will comprise arrays of solar panels, each with heights of up to 3m at the highest point. The Proposed Development will include inverter stations, site tracks, perimeter fencing and CCTV cameras. Temporary construction compounds will be built near the site accesses, which will be dismantled and replaced by solar arrays towards the end of construction.
The area chosen for the Proposed Development will allow the solar PV arrays to be arranged in such a way that they are integrated into the landscape while still facing the sun at an optimal angle, providing maximum solar yield and requiring minimal changes to the existing topography of the site.
The mounting system comprises of two separate elements: upright galvanised posts, which are secured into the ground; and a support frame, which holds the solar PV panels. The complete assembly will be angled to face south (which is the optimum direction for renewable energy generation). The solar PV panels will sit 0.6m off the ground at their lowest point and between 2.5 and 3 m above ground at their highest, depending on topography. The full system is designed to be ‘reversible’ which means that all the Site infrastructure can be fully removed without permanent impact when the Proposed Development reaches the end of its operational life.
Inverters & Transformers
Inverters are required to convert the direct current (DC) generated by the solar PV panels to alternating current (AC) which is compatible with the UK grid network. Transformers are then typically required to “step-up” the voltage at which the solar PV panels generate to a higher voltage, which allows it to be transmitted efficiently.
The Pollards Solar Farm will be fenced around its perimeter with agricultural mesh fencing. Additional security fencing is required around high voltage compounds such as electrical transformers, the battery storage compound and Site substation.
An electricity substation will be installed on site and will connect to existing overhead power lines. Cabling from the panels / inverters will be routed underground to the substation to allow the renewable energy generated to be exported offsite and ono the UK Grid Network.
Access into the site is via an existing shared access route on Wick Street to the south west with Berwick Solar Farm and lower Claverham Farm, which will be extended into the Site area.
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