Ducklington Solar Farm is a solar array located at Ducklington Farm, Ducklington, Oxfordshire. West Oxfordshire approved the planning application for a 36MWp solar project. This produces enough electricity to power 7,843 homes in the district each year which is equivalent to 16% of homes in the district and prevents c.7,800 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released annually.
The site has been carefully selected and designed during a detailed assessment process considering grid availability, solar irradiance, heritage, landscape & amenity, ecology & environmental designations, access, agricultural land quality, and community engagement.
Planning approval was achieved in March 2022 and construction is anticipated to commence in Q2/3 2023 for a commissioning date Q3/4 2023. The site will operate for 40 years after which it will be decommissioned and the land reinstated.
The iterative design process has informed a layout which provides a buffer from adjacent land uses and potential receptors of the site. The site also benefits from mature and effective woodland screening, minimising visual impact.
A bespoke biodiversity strategy has been prepared to ensure existing and new habitats are enhanced or created to benefit local wildlife. As part of this initiative, a 10m wildflower corridor to the public right of way has been implemented, a significant new woodland shall be planted, and the solar farm will be made suitable for grazing within the fenced area and 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.
Our landscape planting, seeding and habitat creation plans focuses 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.
Inverters Units: Convert the power from DC to AC and are mounted on the back of the solar panels at intervals.
DNO Substation Building: A substation (approximately 5.05m x 4.8m x 3.5m (W x L x H)) is used to connect the solar farm to the local electricity network and meter the production.
Transformer Units: Transformers (approximately 10.5m x 3.5m x 3.0m) 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.
Control Room: The control room (7.7m x 2.9m x 3.2m) allows the solar farm to be monitored remotely and contains protection equipment.
A temporary construction compound is proposed in the south of the site, accessed from Aston Lane, and a secondary drop off point in the north of the site, accessed off Coursehill Lane. Each of these areas would be of a size sufficient to allow delivery vehicles to enter and exit in forward gear. Vehicle deliveries are to be by pre-arrangement, and vehicles routed via the north, using the A40 and A415.
The majority of vehicular movements associated with the development would be during the construction and decommissioning periods. Safe and suitable access routes for construction vehicles have been identified within the Construction Traffic Management Plan submitted with the application. This considers the local highway network, the level of vehicle movements associated with the development, and arrangements for the construction period, anticipated to be a maximum of 16 weeks. Advanced notification will be provided for road users and residents ahead of the construction period.
Upon completion of construction there will be minimal traffic during the operational period with maintenance only requiring a site visit roughly once per month
Specialist Environmental Surveys
A range of specialist consultants have undertaken surveys to aid in the design process and to ensure the site is appropriate for development.
Ecology: Specialist species surveys and biodiversity net gain assessments were undertaken. Significant gain in biodiversity by incorporation of new planting and valuable new habitats. Pre-construction and construction mitigation and management proposed to ensure there is no harm to species on site.
Archaeology: Desk based assessment and geophysical surveys identified features of possible interest. Trial Trenching was completed to review the anomalies which suggested these were of minimal archaeological potential.
Landscape and Visuals: The landscape and visual impact assessment determined the landscape impact was negligible-low.
Arboriculture: The trees on site will have protection applied during construction. Root protection zones will be observed and specialist excavation techniques will be utilised around root zones.
Highways: Vehicle routes and site access points have been agreed with highway authorities and a construction traffic management plan was approved as part of the planning application.
Hydrology: Flood risk assessment and surface water management plan deemed the amount of impermeable surface added to the site is negligible. There is no increase in risk of flooding or surface run off from the development.
Green Energy and Climate Change
Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming, causing climate change. The UK Government passed legislation requiring the government to reduce the UK’s net emissions of greenhouse gases by 100% relative to 1990 levels by 2050. Doing so would make the UK a ‘net-zero’ emitter. West Oxfordshire District Council has declared a climate emergency and has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Currently energy production emits large amounts of carbon dioxide each year. In order to meet the targets of both the UK Government and West Oxfordshire District Council, clean energy developments like Ducklington Solar Farm must be developed and are a key part of addressing the Climate Emergency.
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