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Pre-Planning

Frocester Estate Solar Farm

Status:
Pre-Planning
12,200
Homes Powered
11,000
Tonnes of Carbon Saved Annually
49.9MWp
Solar Capacity
40MWp
Battery Storage
90.25
Hectares of Land

Current planning process status

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

Frocester Estate Solar & Storage Project

Novus and Innova are proposing a solar farm with energy storage on land at the Frocester Estate. This site has been selected and designed via a detailed assessment process. Once connected to the local electricity grid, this solar farm would have a capacity of 49.9MW(Megawatts) of energy. This will offset the annual energy needs of approximately 12,200 homes and save around 11,000 tonnes of CO2.

An important part of the development process is to engage with the local community and so this event provides the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback on the proposals.

About Novus and Innova

Novus Renewable Services Limited is a leading independent renewable energy consultancy who have been active in the development of solar projects since 2010. Our mission is to support the delivery of utility scale renewable energy projects using multi-technologies fit for the transition to Net Zero.

Our in-house team of renewable energy industry experts and trusted consultants have extensive experience delivering and operating renewable energy projects across the United Kingdom.

We are working in partnership with the Innova Group who will build, own, and ultimately operate the development.

 


Need for Renewable Energy Developments

There is widespread awareness of the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy sources.

The United Kingdom is the first major economy to pass a Net Zero emissions law, requiring nationwide greenhouse gas emissions to reach Net Zero by 2050, with a target to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035. For this to be achieved an additional three gigawatts per annum of installed solar capacity will be required.

At a local level, Stroud District Council has declared a Climate Emergency and is committed to becoming a carbon neutral district by 2030.

Solar farms like the one proposed at Frocester Estate will play a key role in reaching these committed targets and addressing the Climate Emergency.

 


The Proposal

Hedgerows, trees and watercourses provide important nesting and foraging habitats for a range of wildlife. These will be retained, buffered and protected from disturbance during construction and operational period. 

Within and around the solar array, new grasslands will be created and maintained to increase floristic diversity. This will help to increase pollen and nectar availability, and in turn enhance the area for bees, butterflies and other insects. 

Novus is committed to achieving a Biodiversity Net Gain score which exceeds the level set out in the Environment Act 2021 (above the required 10%). 


Site Proposal

Solar Array

The solar array is proposed to consist of ground-mounted solar photovoltaic panels covering approximately 223 acres with a generating capacity of up to 49.9MWp. This will offset the annual energy needs of approximately 12,200 homes and save around 11,000 tonnes of CO2 .

Energy Storage

The modular battery energy storage system (BESS) is proposed to allow the development to manage the export of power into the local grid to meet demand. Containerised units are commonly based on standard shipping containers approximately 12.8 x 2.4 x 3.5m and accompanied by a power conversion system.

Frames, Panels and Inverters

The solar panels will be installed on frames that are approximately three metres tall at the rear, and around one metre tall on their front, and fixed to the ground. The solar panels generate Direct Current (DC) electricity, which is converted by inverters to electricity with Alternating Current (AC) for export into the local grid. Inverter units (approximately 1m(h) x 70cm (w) x 30cm (d)) will be mounted on the rear of the solar arrays at intervals.

Transformers

Approximately 10 transformer pairs (approximately 3.5m(h) x 10.5m(w) x 3m(d)) will be required to step the voltage. These will be distributed throughout the solar farm, sited by the internal access tracks.

Substation Area

The substation area (approximately 50(l)x60m(w)) will be located in the north-eastern part of the site, near the existing overhead electricity lines and main access track. It will include a customer substation building (approximately 3m(h) x 5m(w) x 2m(d)), which is required to export the energy from the transformers located around the panels in a single cable to the substation operated by the District Network Operator (DNO).

The DNO substation building (approximately 3.5m(h) x 4.8m(w) x 4.6m(w)) is required to meter the production of energy and export it directly to the local grid via the existing nearby overhead lines.

A transformer will be located in the substation area to increase the voltage to a suitable export level into the local electricity grid, whilst busbars will be used to conduct electricity and disconnectors installed to isolate parts of the substation.

All electrical cabling to the substation will be underground and the substation buildings will have a green finish to coordinate with the surroundings.

Access Tracks

An existing field access from Bath Road will be utilised during both construction and operation. Access tracks will be established across the site, measuring approximately four metres in width, and comprising crushed stone over a geo-textile membrane, with no concrete required.

Security

A fence will be installed around the perimeter of the development at a height of approximately two metres, consisting of wooden posts supporting traditional wire stock fencing. Mammal gates will be included along the length of the fence. The site will be monitored by inward facing CCTV cameras.


Ecology

Hedgerows, trees and watercourses provide important nesting and foraging habitats for a range of wildlife. These will be retained, buffered and protected from disturbance during construction and operational period.

Within and around the solar array, new grasslands will be created and maintained to increase floristic diversity. This will help to increase pollen and nectar availability, and in turn enhance the area for bees, butterflies and other insects.

Novus is committed to achieving a Biodiversity Net Gain score which exceeds the level set out in the Environment Act 2021 (above the required 10%)


Transport

The below figure illustrates the proposed construction traffic route.

It is proposed that all construction traffic will route via Junction 13 of the M5 Motorway. From Junction 13, it is proposed that construction traffic routes to the site via the A38 Bristol Road and Bath Road.

The planning application will be supported by a Construction Traffic Management Plan that will include a range of measures to reduce the effect of construction vehicles on the local highway network.

Proposed construction traffic route
Proposed construction traffic route

Site Specific Surveys

Archaeology & Heritage

Following a geophys survey and archaeological trenching, areas of significant archaeology have been confirmed and a detailed mitigation strategy will now be prepared to accompany the application.

Ecology

We have undertaken an Extended Phase 1 Ecology Habitat survey, badger survey and great crested newt (GCN) survey to inform the proposed design and construction mitigation measures. Badger setts and ponds with positive GCN records will retain appropriate buffers to relevant site infrastructure.

Breeding bird surveys were completed in 2021 and wintering bird surveys commenced in October. The results of these surveys will be detailed in full within the planning application.

Agricultural Land

The site is classed as Grade 3 agricultural land according to the Natural England Agricultural Land Classification maps. A site-specific Agricultural Land Classification surveys is currently being undertaken and will form part of the planning application.

Arboriculture

The site design will be assessed by an arboricultural consultant, which will ensure it accounts for Root Protection Zones to prevent any impact on established trees. This may include adopting a ‘no-dig construction’ methodology for the internal access tracks where appropriate. There is no intention to remove any trees to facilitate the development.


Landscape and Visual

The development area is identified as having the lowest landscape sensitivity for large solar farms within Stroud District Council’s Renewable Energy Resources Assessment.

We are currently undertaking a full Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) which will accompany the planning application.  This will include viewpoints agreed with Stroud District Council.

Following an initial Landscape Appraisal, the development has been focused towards the M5 motorway and away from Bath Road to increase the distance from The Cotswolds AONB.  The panels have been setback from existing properties to allow for increased landscape mitigation and the substation located sensitively to minimise views from a nearby footpath.

A landscape management plan will be submitted as part of the planning application to demonstrate how existing and proposed landscape features will be enhanced over time.

The below provides a selection of viewpoints surrounding the site which include labels for the approximate extent of the proposed development.

Viewpoints Plan

Viewpoint A

Viewpoint B


Enhancements and Benefits

Our Community Promise

We believe it is important that local communities share in the benefit our project brings. For all our solar projects we offer a community benefit fund, which can be used to support local projects. We work with our host communities to agree the best way to provide and administer this fund. Every year the 50MWp Frocester Estate solar farm will contribute £250 per MWp to the community benefit fund plus a further £100 per MWp charitable donation for the entire 40-year lifetime.

Boosting Biodiversity

A bespoke Biodiversity Management Strategy is being prepared that ensures existing and new habitats are enhanced or created to benefit local wildlife. The Frocester Estate solar farm’s 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.

Green Spaces

The solar farm has been designed to leave green spaces around the site boundaries and between the rows of panels to avoid shading and maximise electricity generation. This will leave a significant proportion of the development area as uncovered grassland.

Sensitive Design

The iterative design process has informed the evolving development layout which, for example, will account for ecological buffers and any areas of archaeological interest


Next Steps

Pre-application and community consultation – Current

We have received pre-application advice from Stroud District Council and are using this alongside feedback from the community consultation event to refine the proposal ahead of the planning application submission.