Novus are assisting Innova who are planning to develop, construct and operate a new solar array and battery energy storage system installation located on Ham Farm, south-east of Creech St Michael and south of Ham, Taunton. The site will have the ability to generate 21.8MWp of renewable energy, enough to power 5,925 homes in Somerset West and Taunton and save 4,992 tonnes of CO2 emissions 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, and agricultural land quality.
An important part of the development process is to engage with the local community and so we hosted a drop-in event for residents on the 16th of May at the Creech St Michael Village Hall, Taunton TA3 5QQ. The community’s feedback has been carefully considered and helped inform the design and landscape enhancement across the project.
The project has been submitted to Somerset West and Taunton and the planning application can be viewed via this link using the planning reference 14/22/0051. This is where all the documentation for the project is uploaded and also allows anyone to comment on the application.
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 is being 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.
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.
Solar Panels: The solar panels will be mounted with a maximum rear height of 3.1m using frames fixed to the ground with piled posts or ground screws.
Battery Energy Storage: The modular battery system would be rated up to 20MWh. The batteries are stored in containers (12.8m x 2.4m x 3.5m) and the LPA have requested these to ideally be finished in a dark brown colour.
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 (approximately 6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m) 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.
Access to the site for construction will be from the A358 at Lipe Lane to an existing field entrance on White Street and therefore no traffic movements through the village of Ham. Deliveries to site will avoid peak hours. A Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) will be submitted to the LPA for approval.
Advanced notification will be provided for road users and residents ahead of the anticipated 16-week 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 be submitted with the planning application, to aid in the design process and to ensure the site is appropriate for development.
Landscape & Visual: The fields vary in scale across gently undulating terrain. Established trees, hedgerows and Ham sewage treatment works provide good screening. A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment is underway.
Cultural Heritage and Archaeology: No designated heritage assets are located within the proposed development. A geophysical survey of the site has identified few archaeology features. The assessment will include listed buildings and historic built-form.
Ecology: A typical assemblage of farmland species have been observed. Enhancements will encourage wildlife within the site. The hedgerow network will be retained and reinforced and the site seeded as meadow
Hydrology: The infrastructure is located outside of areas of high risk of flooding. The land is currently grazed and will continue to be grazed.
Noise: Modelling is underway to assess the potential noise impacts during construction and as a result of electrical infrastructure during operation. There is expected to be low to negligible impact. Mitigation measures can be applied if necessary.
Glint and Glare: A survey has commenced to determine if the effects of glint and glare will impact any nearby receptors and appropriate mitigations to be in place if so.
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. Somerset West and Taunton has declared a climate emergency and is committed to working towards making the area as a whole carbon neutral by 2030.
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 Ham Farm Solar & Storage Project are a key part of addressing the Climate Emergency.
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