We have instructed a range of specialist consultants who are currently undertaking surveys to inform our design process, and for the upcoming planning application.
Landscape & Visual
We are currently completing a full Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) which will accompany the planning application. Key viewpoints from the surrounding area will be assessed and provided with this LVIA.
The site is not included in any national designations. However, the site is within a Special Landscape Area, a local landscape designation defined by Wrexham County Borough Council. The site also lies approximately 1.8km to the west of the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley Area Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). We have contacted the AONB Board for comment.
The initial Landscape Appraisal concluded that any notable effects on landscape character and visual amenity as a result of the proposed development would be localised and could be reduced by mitigation planting, which would provide increased filtering and screening of the proposed development as planting matures.
Agricultural Land Quality
An agricultural land classification survey has been completed which confirms the development site comprises Grade 2 agricultural land. In planning policy terms, ‘Best and Most Versatile’ agricultural land (which is afforded the highest level of protection) comprises Grades 1, 2 and 3a. Lower grade agricultural land comprises land that falls in Grade 3b, 4 and 5. Previous surveys of this general area of Wrexham have shown higher grade land is common.
Cultural Heritage and Archaeology
Our archaeology consultants have liaised with Clywd-Powys Archaeological Trust (CPAT), who are the archaeological consultees to Wrexham County Borough Council and Cadw, the statutory heritage consultee for Wales. An Archaeological Desk Based Assessment has been completed which considers the proposal and the cable route options in the context of designate heritage assets, such as nearby Offa’s Dyke, as well as the potential for sub-surface non-designated assets.
Following the desk-based assessment and upon recommendation of CPAT, a geophysical survey of the site has been completed. This has indicated potential areas of archaeological interest and we have now completed trial trenching.
A Settings Assessment has been completed to determine the potential for any effects on heritage assets within 3km of the site, along with a Heritage Impact Assessment. These will be submitted as part of the planning application. It is anticipated that, with appropriate mitigation, such as screening, sensitive site design and considered planning of the cable route, the potential impact of the development on nearby above ground heritage assets will be minor to moderate.
An ecological assessment comprising of an Extended Phase 1 Habitat survey, breeding bird surveys, badger survey, bat detector surveys, an assessment of the likely impacts on the ecological features of the site and recommendations for further survey and/or mitigation measures to be implemented has been completed.
The ecology assessment concluded that the application site has been found to comprise low value habitats of low ecological value. The site supports foraging bats and an assemblage of breeding birds of value at the local scale. The scheme will result in the loss of 4.5ha of improved grassland but will retain and enhance the more valuable habitats on site and will deliver a 4.5ha area of ecological enhancement land for long-term biodiversity gains. Therefore a positive change in the ecological value of the site is expected.
Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)
The UK is one of the most nature depleted countries in the world, caused by the move to intensive agriculture and new infrastructure. Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) is targeted in England through the development of a Defra Metric, that calculates change based on habitat type and area. However, this metric system is not applicable in Wales. The net-benefits for biodiversity approach by Welsh Government
has the same intent as the BNG approach – to deliver an overall improvement in biodiversity.
it is anticipated that the scheme will deliver a significant Net Benefit for Biodiversity. This will be achieved through the enhancement of 11ac of land to the west of the site to benefit roosting/foraging/commuting bats, nesting/foraging birds, invertebrates, grassland habitat and riparian habitat. The land will be brought into long-term conservation management which will ensure a sustainable future for this area and the flora/fauna that it supports. Invertebrates and pollinators will benefit from the creation of a greater diversity in vegetation structure and habitat types, as well as specific features such as grass heaps, refugia, south-facing banks and topographical variation.
The long-term management and monitoring of the biodiversity enhancements will be detailed within a Habitat Management Plan which will be secured by way of a planning condition.
The entirety of the proposed development site is located within Flood Zone 1, which represents areas which have less than 1 in 1000 (0.1%) chance of flooding in a given year, including climate change.
The majority of the site is located within Flood Zone 1, meaning it is not constrained by flood risk. We have completed a Flood Risk Statement and an Outline Drainage Strategy which will from part of the planning application. We will shortly be submitting a pre-application advise request to the Sustainable Drainage System Approving Body (SAB) at Wrexham County Borough Council.
The outline drainage strategy has been designed to ensure ensure the proposed development does not increase flood risk on or off site.
The planning application will be supported by a Full Noise Impact Assessment which has identified the closest noise receptors and considers the potential noise generation from the plant associated with the proposed development, with respect to existing sound levels in the area. Several mitigation measures will be included in the design and which will ensure that the proposed development will give rise to rating sound levels that do not exceed the measured background sound levels in the area.