Novus are planning to develop, construct and operate a new solar array and energy storage project located to the east of Stafford, near Drointon. The site would be able to generate 49.9MW (Megawatts) of electricity, enough to power around 12,736 homes and save approximately 9,436 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
The site has been carefully selected and designed through a detailed assessment process considering grid availability, heritage, landscape & amenity, ecology & environmental designations, access, and agricultural land quality. We have engaged a team of expert consultants to undertake site specific assessment which are currently in progress.
We are keen to hear the local community’s feedback on our project, our current designs and plans. We plan to submit our planning application to Stafford Borough Council in December 2022.
The iterative design process has informed a layout which has identified the land which benefits from established screening and includes a buffer from residential properties and local public rights of ways. Additional planting of hedgerow and woodland is proposed at the site boundaries to further screen the site.
The solar farm will be made suitable for 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.
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.
Energy Storage: The energy storage equipment will be enclosed in container units.
Inverters units: Convert the power from DC to AC and are mounted on the back of the solar panels at intervals.
Substation buildings: Required to connect the solar farm to the local electricity network, and meter the production.
Transformer units: Will be required for each section of the solar farm to step the voltage up to a suitable export level.
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 operational 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.
The land parcel housing the solar array and energy storage site will be accessed from an un-named road through an existing entrance to the north of the site. For the smaller land parcel housing the electrical switchgear a new entrance into this area will need to be created.
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 are being identified within the Construction Traffic Management Plan submitted with the application. The construction period for the proposed development is expected to be 25 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
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: According to the Natural England Agricultural Land Maps, the site is located on Grade 3 agricultural land. We are currently undertaking a site-specific Agricultural Land Classification survey which will provide an up-to-date result.
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.
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.
Stafford Borough Council declared a Climate Emergency in 2019. The Council is committed to meeting the target of making the Council and the borough as a whole carbon neural by 2040.
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 Lower Farm Solar & Storage Project are a key part of addressing the Climate Emergency. The development at Lower Farm will serve a key role in this vital transition to renewable energy
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