Location and Access
The proposed renewable energy scheme is located south-west of the village of Newbold Pacey, which is approximately 2.5km to the north east of Wellesbourne. The B4087 Newbold Rd Road forms the southern boundary of the site. Access is gained from the B4087.
Appearance and Operation
Solar energy is absorbed by Photovoltaic (PV) cells formed into panels, mounted on metal stands which are pushed firmly into the ground. The panels are arranged to face south to gain maximum irradiation from the sun. Electricity generated by the panels is converted to the form of electricity used by National Grid and connected to the grid to provide a renewable source of energy.
Green Energy and Climate Change
There is widespread awareness of the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and an encouragement to increase the generation and use of renewable energy. The UK Government has a legal obligation in relation to generating renewable energy and to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Stratford on Avon District Council declared a Climate and Ecological Emergency in July 2019, as did Warwickshire County Council.
The proposed solar park will make an important contribution. The proposed installed capacity will be 25MWp and to provide some context, that will be enough electricity to power 5,623 homes annually and save 5,914 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Construction and Traffic
It is proposed to access the site off the B4087 using an existing field access. A temporary construction compound would be formed just inside the access. Once construction is completed (estimated to take a maximum of 16 weeks) there will be minimal traffic during the operational period as the equipment needs only to be checked once or twice a month.
A desk-based heritage assessment has confirmed that there are no Scheduled Ancient Monuments within the site or within a 1 Km radius of the site. There was a possibility of the site having WW2 aircraft crash remains but none were found from a geophysical survey. However, an area to the east of the site was identified as potentially having some interest dating back to Roman times, and it has therefore been excluded from the solar farm area.
Landscape and Wildlife
The Elms Farm site is primarily in arable use and fields have surrounding hedgerows. These hedgerows will be retained as part of the proposed development, and a stand-off from hedgerow habitat will be integrated into the construction proposals, In addition, the scheme will be designed to include additional habitat and extend the range of habitat types on the site. New tree and shrub planting will provide landscape enhancement and additional biodiversity corridors.
Within the solar PV area, a new grassland will be created and maintained to increase floristic diversity. This will help to increase pollen and nectar availability with consequent benefits for bees and other insects.
The grassland between and around the panels can continue in agricultural use, and sheep grazing helps to maintain the ecological value of the grass sward.
The ecological measures included in the scheme have been calculated to provide a Biodiversity Net Gain Score which meets or exceeds the level expected in the Environment Bill, currently going through Parliament.
Planning - Next Steps
A planning application is being prepared for submission to the local planning authority, Stratford-on-Avon District Council. This will include many technical assessments to assist the authority in considering the application. As part of the process, the authority will invite comments by a range of consultees. There is no precise time as yet for the submission although it is likely to be later this year.
Visit our GET INVOLVED page to have your say as part of our pre-application consultation.