Plans for a solar farm in West Northamptonshire submitted by EDF Renewables UK
EDF Renewables UK has submitted its planning application for a 49.9 MW solar farm – Glassthorpe – between the villages of Flore and Upper Heyford, which will be capable of generating enough low carbon electricity for the annual domestic needs of more than 9,700 Northamptonshire households* helping the UK secure its energy supplies. West Northamptonshire Council will now scrutinise the application ahead of making a decision.
Amongst growing concern about climate change, a solar farm at Glassthorpe could contribute to saving around 21,408 tonnes** of carbon dioxide emissions each year. The project will also deliver a community fund of £20,000 paid annually for the 40-year lifetime of the project, flexible funding to support local priorities such as educational initiatives, biodiversity schemes, new kit for local sports teams, and much more.
Improving biodiversity on site is a key objective, too, and the detailed plans show that a significant improvement in wildlife habitats across the site can be achieved by planting 1.3 km of new hedgerows, as well as creating a new wildflower meadow and scrub.
In the longer term, EDF Renewables UK is also looking to install EV charging points near to site to help the local community transition to electric vehicle ownership.
EDF Renewables’ Head of Development, Darren Cuming, said, “This is an excellent site for a solar farm, as it’s suitably sunny, with an agreed grid connection, and the area is well screened. We are grateful to local people for their input into the consultation and ongoing engagement, and our aim is to be a good neighbour to the community.
“EDF Renewables is an experienced developer and we are firmly committed to solar as a technology which plays an important part in the UK energy mix. The UK Government has a target of cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050, and the need for security of energy supply is greater than ever.”
The submission comes after more than a year of preparation, including a consultation with members of the public, ecological and feasibility surveys, and detailed site assessments which helped determine the final design of the solar farm. As a result, there will be fewer solar panels near to footpaths and these will be set at a distance of at least 10 metres away. Panels to the west of Midshires Way have been removed, with remaining panels in this part of the site positioned behind the hedge and screened from view. EDF Renewables has also proposed a new temporary construction site access that avoids using the junction in Upper Heyford.
EDF Renewables UK is presenting the final plans at a meeting organised by Flore and Upper Heyford Parish Councils to be held at the United Reform Church in Flore on Tuesday 7th June at 7 pm.
NOTE TO EDITORS
About EDF Renewables
EDF Renewables UK and Ireland (www.edf-re.uk) is a subsidiary of EDF Group, one of the world’s largest low carbon electricity companies, and our investment and innovation is bringing significant benefits for communities. With our operating portfolio of 38 renewable energy sites including battery, onshore and offshore wind (together totalling 1 GW) we are providing much needed affordable, low carbon electricity. We have an expanding portfolio with almost 5 GW of projects in planning and development, including wind, battery and solar PV.
The Glassthorpe development will consist of rows of solar panels mounted on metal frames, between 2-3 m above the ground, contained within an 88-hectare site.
A new temporary construction access to site is proposed: 30m north-west along Main Road, and away from the existing unclassified road in Upper Heyford, thus avoiding use of the junction in Upper Heyford. If planning permission is granted, a Traffic Management Plan will be agreed with the Highways Authority before construction begins. Construction, scheduled for 2023, should take around 6 months to complete. Connection to the grid will be made 8 km east of site at Northampton West substation.
As part of the determination process, West Northamptonshire Council will carry out its own consultation, before deciding whether the solar farm can go ahead. Should planning permission be granted, the solar farm will be constructed in 2023.
Further project information can be found on the Glassthorpe website.
* Based upon the average domestic electricity consumption per home (temperature corrected) per the Energy Consumption in the UK (published July 2020, Table C9 of ECUK: Consumption data tables)
** Load factors based on the five year rolling averages on unchanged configuration basis using Table 6.5 of 'Digest of UK Energy Statistics' - latest figures as per July 2020 release
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