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Public Consultation

Aston Grange Solar & Energy Storage Project

Public Consultation
Homes Powered
Tonnes of Carbon Saved Annually
Solar Capacity
Battery Capacity
Hectares of Land

Current planning process status

  • Public Consultation
  • Revise Proposals
  • Application Submitted
  • Application Consultation
  • Decision on Application

About the Project

Novus are proposing to develop, construct and operate a solar and energy storage project at Aston Grange Farm, Aston, Cheshire. The site would be able to generate 40MW (Megawatts) of electricity, enough to power around 10,261 homes and save approximately 7,474 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

The site has been carefully selected and designed through a detailed assessment process considering grid availability, heritage, landscape & amenity, ecology & environmental designations, access, and agricultural land quality.  We have engaged a team of expert consultants to undertake site specific assessment which are currently in progress.

We are keen to hear the local community’s feedback on our project, our current designs and plans. We plan to submit our planning application to Cheshire West and Chester Council in 2023.

We are currently engaging with the Council through their pre-application planning advice service.

Site Design

The iterative design process has informed a layout which has selected the land which benefits from established screening and includes a buffer from residential properties and local public rights of way. Additional planting of hedgerow and woodland is proposed at the site boundaries to further screen the site.

The Hatton’s Hey Wood, Whittle’s Corner and Bank Rough Site of Special Scientific Interest (‘SSSI’) is located on the site’s west boundary. The proposal will include a suitable buffer from this designation and seek to provide enhancement measures for local flora and fauna associated with the SSSI.

The proposal includes landscape planting on the east boundary, adjacent to the railway line, and on the south and west boundary to enhance screening of the site and add to the SSSI.

The solar farm will be made suitable for sheep grazing within the fenced area through seeded with an appropriate grassland mix. The margins of the site outside the fence can be used for other habitat enhancements such as wildflower seeding which will boost the biodiversity both on and off site.

The Equipment

Solar Panels: The solar panels will be mounted with a maximum rear height of approximately 3m using frames fixed to the ground with piled posts or ground screws.

Battery Storage: The battery storage equipment will be stored in approximately 6m long containers.

Inverters units: Convert the power from DC to AC and are mounted on the back of the solar panels at intervals.

Substation buildings: Required to connect the solar farm to the local electricity network, and meter the production.

Transformer units: Will be required for each section of the solar farm to step the voltage up to a suitable export level.

CCTV: Infrared CCTV cameras may be required and will be positioned within the fence line and be directed within the site only. These will not include any exterior lighting.

Storage/Monitoring Buildings: Containerised structures to store equipment during the operational of the solar farm for use of the maintenance staff.

Perimeter fence: A deer-style fence comprising of wooden posts supporting traditional wire stock fencing to match the local vernacular. This will be approximately 2m high and will include suitable access for wildlife.

Site Access

Construction Access will be via the existing Aston Grange Farm entrance, from Aston Lane. The lane is currently suitable for HGV movements associated with the agricultural activities with pre-existing concrete roads in place.

Traffic management measures will be employed to ensure safe entry and exit from Aston Lane. This would be agreed in consultation with the Local Highway Authority and controlled through a detailed Construction Traffic Management Plan, secured by planning conditions. Advanced notification will be provided for road users and residents ahead of the anticipated 16 week construction period.

The Operational access will also utilise the existing access at Aston Grange Farm. There will be minimal traffic during the operational period with maintenance only requiring a site visit roughly once per month. Operational visits are usually carried out by one or two personnel, in a light goods vehicle, to undertake routine maintenance and project checks. We would also make occasional trips to site as part of our ongoing planning and environmental management compliance checks. For example, to check on our ongoing landscaping and ecological management measures, and to identify opportunities for additional enhancements.

Internal access tracks will use existing tracks and extend these where required. Any new access tracks will be 4 metres wide and will be built of crushed stone over a geo-textile membrane, no concrete will be required. Where possible, tracks will be allowed to grass over once construction is finished.

The site would be operational for a period of 40 years. Once the project ceases operation it will be restored to its original condition.

Specialist Environmental Surveys

A range of specialist consultants have undertaken surveys to be submitted with the planning application to aid in the design process and ensure the site is appropriate for the proposed solar farm.

Landscape & Visual: The site extends across three fields which benefit from existing landscape screening, within an extensive network of bounding hedges and woodland. We are planning to enhance and reinforce screening on the north, east and south boundaries. A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment is currently underway and will inform the detailed landscaping plan.

Agricultural Land Quality: According to the Natural England Agricultural Land Maps, the site is located on Grade 3 agricultural land. We are currently undertaking a site-specific Agricultural Land Classification survey which will provide an up-to-date result.

Cultural Heritage and Archaeology:  We will be undertaking cultural heritage assessments, considering the potential for both buried archaeology on site and inter- relationships with nearby above ground heritage assets in the local area.

Ecology – A bespoke biodiversity strategy is being prepared that ensures existing and new habitats are enhanced or created to benefit local wildlife.  Ecology studies have been undertaken to identify the impact of current proposals and we will use this information to design and develop our long-term management plan for the site.

Biodiversity Net Gain (‘BNG’) – All our sites deliver significant BNG, and we will wherever possible exceed the statutory requirements set out for this. We will provide site specific management and ecological mitigation measures to ensure on-site BNG. These will be confirmed and consulted on as part of the planning application process.

Hydrology – A flood risk assessment will form part of the planning application to ensure the proposed development or the surrounding area is not at risk from surface water or river flooding due to the proposal and to employ mitigations if necessary.

Noise – Modelling is underway to assess the potential noise impacts during construction or because of electrical infrastructure during operation. There is expected to be low to negligible impact. Mitigation measures can be applied if necessary.

Glint & Glare: Due to the sites proximity to the railway, an assessment will be undertaken to see if there are any effects of glint and glare. Suitable mitigation measures will be implemented where required.

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.

Cheshire West and Chester Council has declared a climate emergency on 21st May 2019. The Council is committed to meeting the target of making the Council and the borough as a whole carbon neural by 2045.

The Cheshire West and Chester Emergency Response Plan (2022) highlights the need for 300MW of installed solar power is required by 2025 and 800MW by 2050. The proposed Aston Grange solar farm will assist Cheshire West and Chester in meeting approximately 10% of this target.

The UK has committed to becoming Net Zero by 2050 and a target to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035. This requires an extra 3GW of solar to be built each year. Renewable energy developments like Aston Grange Farm Solar & Storage Project are a key part of addressing the Climate Emergency. The development at Aston Grange Farm will serve a key role in this vital transition to renewable energy.


Why are you using Green Belt Land?

We have undertaken a thorough sequential exercise during site selection, which has explored opportunities to locate the solar project on previously developed land and land outside the Green Belt as a priority. However, given the extent of the Green Belt in this area and the need to connect into the local distribution network, this site is considered to be the most suitable. The proposed development site benefits from established screening from existing vegetation and due to topography has a small number of visual receptors. The benefits of the solar farm, being its low-lying nature, significant biodiversity enhancements, green spaces between the panels and around field boundaries will seek to be screened from viewpoints and blend into the land.

What will the construction traffic route be?

It is our intention that construction traffic will come from the M56, A533 and Aston Lane.

How will the solar farm impact food security?

An Agricultural Land Classification survey is currently underway. The land used for the solar farm forms only part of the landowners available farming land. The rent for the land of the solar farm allows financial security for the landowner to continue farming the remaining farmland. The proposal also includes planting which will form suitable grazing land for sheep, therefore enabling a duel use of the site and continuation of its agricultural use.