Novus are assisting Innova who are planning to develop, construct and operate a new solar array and energy storage system located on Upper Newton Farm, Draycott Road, Upper Tean, Staffordshire. The site will be located to the south east of the approved solar farm at Blythe House Farm which has the ability to generate up to 27.7 MWp of solar energy and storage 30MW which is enough to power 7,107 homes in Staffordshire Moorlands District annually. The proposed extension will generate up to 17.6MWp of solar energy which is enough to power 4,653 homes and save 3,545 tonnes of carbon annually for the proposed 40-year lifespan.
The extension site has been carefully selected, though its proximity to the approved solar and energy storage site 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 provide advice on the project.
The previous permission for the Blythe Solar Farm was approved by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council in February 2023. The planning application can be viewed via this link and using the reference number SMD/2022/0160.
A 17.6MWp solar extension is being proposed to Blythe Solar Farm following positive feedback from members of the Planning Committee, and the Council’s Landscape consultant. This extension would result in the entire scheme being able to power 11,760 homes in the district each year and prevent 9,146 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
An important part of the development process is to engage with the local community and therefore we will be hosting a community consultation event at Great Wood Hall, Hollington Road, ST10 4JY on Thursday 3rd August 2023. Please feel free to drop in at any time between 3pm and 7pm.
Blythe Solar Farm Extension
Novus and Innova are proposing a 17.6MWp solar extension to the consented Blythe Solar Farm (SMD/2022/0160) located to the south-west of the A50 trunk road and the north east of the Derby to Crewe railway line. Once connected, the extended solar site will produce enough electricity to power an additional approximately 4,653 homes in Staffordshire Moorlands District every year and prevent 3,545 tonnes of CO2 being emitted annually.
During the course of the successfully consented Blythe Solar Farm, both the Council’s landscape consultant and members of the planning committee commented on how visually contained parts of the site were, including the adjacent larger southern fields. In the interest of optimising suitable areas of land for renewable energy generation, whilst minimising any impacts, it is considered that there is a suitable opportunity to deliver a small expansion to the approved project for additional solar panels.
Through the extension proposal it is proposed to relocated the approved substation next to the existing OHL to concentrate the electrical infrastructure to a small area, deliver more suitable screening by the topography, allow for a more efficient grid connection, and allow for a modest increase in solar panels to the previously approved solar farm, providing additional public benefits over and above what will already be delivered.
The extension would be constructed at the same time as the consented solar and energy storage development, using the same construction compound and access route. Additional surveys are being undertaken which consider any impact when both the sites are built simultaneously. The construction length will remain at 16 weeks, due to efficiencies of construction activities highlighted above.
We believe that community engagement is a valuable part of the development process. We are holding a public consultation event on Thursday 4th August at Great Wood Hall, Hollington Road, Upper Tean, ST10 4JY.
The Council have been notified of the proposed extension application and we will seek to engage with them. As part of that process planning officers sought the views of relevant statutory consultees and provided feedback which has been fed into the design process.
The project has followed an iterative design process and has been informed by an analysis of the site character, and environmental and physical constraints and opportunities, drawing on desk and field work by a team of experts.
A bespoke biodiversity strategy has been prepared that ensures existing and new habitats are enhanced or created to benefit local wildlife. As part of this initiative, our landscape planting, seeding and habitat creation plans will focus on native species. These initiatives will contribute to securing long term biodiversity net gain across the site.
Solar Panels: The solar panels will be mounted with a maximum rear height of 3.0m using frames fixed to the ground with piled posts or ground screws.
Energy Storage: The modular battery system is stored in containers Each container will have a heating, ventilation and air-cooling unit and transformer. The energy storage compound will be enclosed by palisade fencing.
Inverters units: Convert the power from DC to AC and are mounted on the back of the solar panels at intervals.
Substation buildings: A substation is used to connect the solar farm to the local electricity network and meter the production.
Transformer units: Transformers are used to step up the voltage from the solar panels to a suitable export level and are placed strategically throughout the site.
Perimeter fence: Wooden posts supporting traditional wire stock fencing (approximately 2m high) to match the local vernacular as required by the local authority. Infrared CCTV cameras may be required which would look along the fence line with no exterior lighting required anywhere on site.
The majority of vehicular movements associated with the development will occur during the construction phase, which is expected to take a maximum of 16 weeks. A temporary construction compound will be created towards the north-western boundary of the site.
Construction vehicles will be required to follow routes and safety procedures set out within a Construction Transport Management Plan. Construction vehicles would travel to the site via the A50. There is no direct access from the A50 into the site, and vehicles will travel northwards and join the A521 at the Tean Roundabout. From here, they will travel southwards along the A521 /Uttoxeter Road before turning right on to the farm access that currently serves Lower and Upper Newton Farms.
Once the solar farm has been completed and is operational, there will be 1-2 visits a month for routine maintenance.
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 to ensure the site is appropriate for development. The following surveys have been undertaken;
Flood Risk Assessment
Agriculture Land Classification
Construction Traffic Management Plan
Landscape and Visual Assessment
Historic Environment Desk-Based Assessment
Preliminary Ecological Appraisal
Wintering Bird Survey
Ecological Impact Assessment
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.
Staffordshire Moorlands Council declared a climate emergency on 10th July 2019 and Staffordshire County Council declared a climate emergency on 25th July 2019.
The proposed extension to the solar farm and energy store will make an important contribution to the supply of renewable energy. The proposed installed capacity of the panels will be 17.6 MWp. To provide some context, that will be enough electricity to power 4,653 homes within the District annually and save 3,545 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year for its 40-year lifespan.
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