Location and Access
The proposed renewable energy project is located south-west of the village of Newbold Pacey, which is approximately 2.5km to the north east of Wellesbourne. The B4087 Newbold Road forms the southern boundary of the site. Access is gained from an existing field access off 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 together in rows 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.
The site will be secured with a stockproof fence with inward facing CCTV cameras and no lighting.
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 committed to generating renewable energy, requiring over 3GW per year to reach Net Zero emissions by 2050. Stratford-on-Avon District Council declared a Climate Emergency in July 2019, with the Climate Change Action Programme targeting installation of 730MW capacity by 2030.
The proposed solar park will make an important contribution. The proposed installed capacity is expected to be 25MWp which is enough electricity to power 5,623 homes annually, equivalent to 9% of homes in the district and save 5,379 tonnes of CO2 a year.
Construction and Traffic
It is proposed to access the site off the B4087 using an existing field access, modified to safely allow vehicles to enter and exit. 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.
The route to be used by delivery vehicles will be via the A429 and B4087, approaching the site from the south – avoiding the Conservation Area and community in Newbold Pacey.
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. The field closest to the conservation area of Newbold Pacey was removed from the design at an early stage. A geophysical survey then identified an area to the north east of the site 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 established 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 proposals include additional habitats and extend the range of habitat types on the site. New tree, shrub and wildflower 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 enhancements across the project have been calculated to provide a Biodiversity Net Gain Score of over 90%
Planning - Next Steps
In September we held a community consultation event. The application has now been submitted to Stratford-on-Avon District Council, who will consult with statutory bodies to assess the proposed development.