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Pre-Planning

Irthlingborough West Solar Farm

Status:
Pre-Planning
2,679
Homes Powered
1,985T
Carbon Saved
10MW
Capacity
20.1Ha
Land

Current planning process status

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

About the project

Innova are working on a proposal for a solar development on land at Broadholme, to the north of the Rushden Lakes shopping and leisure centre, with Ditchford road to the west. We will work in partnership with Innova Group who will operate the development once constructed. This proposal will be connected into the local electricity network and has potential to be used by local homes and businesses, . Private wire options are also being explored with local businesses and high energy users.  The site would be able to generate 10MW (Megawatts) of electricity, enough to power around 2,679 homes and save approximately 1,985 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

The site has been carefully selected and designed through a detailed assessment process considering grid availability, solar irradiance, access, landscape, agricultural quality, ecology, heritage, and environmental designations.  We are now undertaking the final site-specific environmental surveys to further shape the design.

We are keen to hear the local community’s feedback on the project’s current designs and plans. We plan to submit our planning application to North Northamptonshire Council late summer 2023.


Site Design

The iterative design process has informed a layout which has identified a land parcel which benefits from established screening and includes a buffer from residential properties.

The solar farm will be designed to provide ongoing agricultural use through sheep 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 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 3.1m 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.

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 operation 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

At this stage two access points are being considered. The first option utilising the existing Anglian Water access track. The second access option is to the north of the site, onto the B571.

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 will be identified within the Construction Traffic Management Plan, which will be submitted with the planning application. The construction period for the proposed development is expected to take 16weeks. Advanced notice 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

The site has been carefully selected and designed during a detailed assessment process considering grid availability, land availability, solar irradiance, landscape & amenity, ecology, agricultural land quality, heritage, environmental designations and access.

Agricultural Land Quality: We have undertaken a detailed site-specific Agricultural Land Classification survey which confirms that the site is entirely sub Grade 3b and does not comprise of any best and most versatile agricultural land.

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 any site-specific sensitivities and we will use this information to design and develop our long-term management plan for the site. This includes extensive breeding bird and wintering bird surveys.

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.


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.

North Northamptonshire Council declared a Climate Emergency in July 2021. The Council is committed to meeting the target of making the Council and area as a whole carbon neural by 2030. This site can be connected in 2024 and can therefore contribute significantly towards this ambitious 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 Broadholme Solar Project are a key part of addressing the Climate Emergency. The development at Broadholme will serve a key role in this vital transition to renewable energy.