Novus are assisting Innova who are planning to develop, construct, own and operate a new solar array located at Parkhill Farm, 4.5km north of Arbroath and 1km east of Letham Grange. The site will have the ability to generate up to 18MWp of renewable energy, enough to power 4,569 homes in Angus and prevent 3,351 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted annually. The biodiversity enhancements provide an overall biodiversity net gain of 89% for habitats and 202% for hedgerows. This is achieved via new native hedgerows and infill planting, the inclusion of bird boxes, bat boxes and amphibian hibernacula, and the development of extensive areas of structurally and species-diverse grassland swards.
The site has been carefully selected following an in-depth assessment of the local area which considered the grid availability, land availability, solar irradiance, ecology and environmental designations, heritage, and landscape and amenity.
We have previously engaged with Angus Council and statutory consultees through their pre-application planning advice service and received their formal comments in February 2022.
An important part of the process was to engage with the local community. Leaflets containing an overview of the project were distributed to the local community in November 2022 and the feedback received was positive.
The project has been submitted to Angus Council and the planning application can be viewed via this link using the planning reference 23/00272/FULL. This is where all the documentation for the project is uploaded and allows anyone to comment on the application.
We have undertaken an iterative design process, responding to the results of environmental fieldwork and engagement with the Local Planning Authority and consultees.
The site will be well screened by existing vegetation to the south and west of the site and a railway line to the north. Additional ecological enhancements are planned for the southwest corner and as part of the proposals, we will be installing new, and reinforcing existing, hedgerow boundaries across the southwest, south and eastern boundaries. This will minimise the visual impact of the development and help screen it in the wider landscape.
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 which will boost the biodiversity both on and off site.
Solar Panels: The solar panels will be mounted with a maximum rear height of approximately 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.
Substation buildings: Approximately 6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m and required to connect the solar farm to the local electricity network, and meter the production.
Transformer units: Approximately 10.5m overall x 3.5m x 3.0m will be required for each section of the solar farm to step the voltage up to a suitable export level.
Perimeter fence: Approximately 2 metres high, consisting of wooden posts supporting traditional wire stock fencing 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.
Construction traffic will travel along the A92 and shall turn on to an unnamed road heading west that runs along the southern boundary of the site. The development will utilise the existing access created for the solar farm which is already present on the site.
Traffic management measures will be employed to ensure safe entry and exit from this junction. This would be agreed upon in consultation with the Local Highway Authority and controlled through a detailed management plan, secured by planning conditions. The traffic management plan is available to view with all our reports on the Angus Council planning portal.
Advanced notification will be provided for road users and residents ahead of the anticipated four-month 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. Operational visits are usually carried out by one or two personnel, in a light goods vehicle, to undertake routine maintenance and project checks.
Specialist Environment Surveys
A range of specialist consultants have undertaken surveys to aid in the design process and ensure the site is appropriate for the proposed solar farm.
Cultural Heritage and Archaeology: Site visits conducted by independent specialists have demonstrated that there is no potential for the proposed development to affect the cultural significance of designated heritage assets in the surrounding area
Glint And Glare: Detailed modelling of the impacts on residential dwellings was commissioned which has predicted no effects of glint and glare on any receptors.
Landscape and Visual: The landform profile of the site along with the localised presence of solar, wind turbines, road and rail infrastructure, overhead lines, woodland blocks, and hedged and treelined field boundaries results in no significant landscape impacts by the development. Our application includes photomontages showing how the proposals would look within the landscape, taken from key viewpoints.
Ecology and Protected Species: Significant gains in biodiversity will be created by the incorporation of new planting and the creation of valuable new habitats. Pre-construction and construction mitigation and management is proposed to ensure there is no harm to species on site. Through our independently commissioned studies, no significant adverse effects were identified to protected species.
Traffic Statement and Management: A construction traffic management plan has been completed to assess the impact during both construction and operation. During construction, the level of traffic increase is calculated at below 3% across the whole study area. During operation, the site was modelled for up two inbound trips per week to monitor and review operations but is likely to only require monthly visits. The impact of this development on traffic is minimal.
Flood Risk Assessment & Drainage: The site is not at risk of fluvial flooding and surface water does not pose a risk to development. Care will be taken not to disrupt current drainage systems and surface water storage will be installed which will reduce runoff and flood risk downstream.
Economic Benefit: During the peak construction and operational phases the site will directly generate 52 full time jobs and an additional 68 full time jobs within the supply chain. The 18MWp of energy created by the development will power 4,569 homes and prevent 3,351 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted annually.
Land Capacity for Agriculture (LCA): The site comprises of prime agricultural land, predominantly in the lowest class, 3:1, with National policy recognising the need for renewable energy and the potential for this to be located on prime land. The site itself is only a small proportion of the farming estate and the income it will provide will give stability to the business.
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.
Angus Council approved the Transition to Net Zero Action Plan: 2022 to 2030 on the 8th September 2022. This plan is to ensure Angus Council meets the Scottish Government interim emissions reduction target of a 75% reduction in emissions by 2030 (reference)
The Sustainable Energy and Climate Action Plan (SECAP) was approved on 4 November 2021, and this supports Angus in its commitment to the transition to a low-carbon-economy and importantly provide sustainable, affordable, and secure access to energy.
The final version of the Scottish Government’s National Planning Framework 4 was published in February 2023. The document identifies that Scotland’s energy sector has a significant role to play in reducing carbon emissions and contributing to a green, fair, and resilient economic recovery. It states that “the planning system should support all forms of renewable energy development and energy storage, together with new and replacement transmission and distribution infrastructure”(reference).
The development at Mains House will serve a key role in this vital transition to renewable energy.
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