Novus are proposing to construct a solar farm project at land adjacent to Welsh Way, near Fairford. Novus are working with The Ernest Cook Trust, as the landowners and in partnership with Innova Group, who will ultimately operate the solar farm. The site will be able to generate enough electricity to power 2,700 homes.
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 assessments which are currently in progress.
We are keen to hear the local community’s feedback on our proposal. We are currently engaging with Cotswold District Council through their pre-application planning advice service, and we plan to submit our planning application in summer 2023.
The site has been carefully selected and designed during a detailed assessment process considering land and grid availability, solar irradiance, access, landscape & amenity, agricultural land quality, ecology, heritage, and environmental designations. We are now undertaking site-specific environmental assessments that will shape the design.
The selected site benefits from existing tree and hedgerow planting along the field boundaries, with The Down’s and Paton’s Plantations to the north of the site providing further screening. To ensure the development is suitably screened, additional planting is proposed to strengthen the existing field boundaries. This will be demonstrated in a detailed planting plan as part of the planning application.
The grassland underneath the panels will be suitable for sheep grazing. The margins of the site outside the fence line can be used for other habitat enhancements such as wildflower seeding which will boost the biodiversity.
Solar Panels: The solar panels will be mounted with a maximum rear height of approximately 3m 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: Required to connect the solar farm to the local electricity grid, 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. This will be approximately 2m high and will include suitable access for wildlife.
Internal access tracks: a small number of internal access tracks will be required for maintenance vehicles. These will follow existing tracks where possible and will comprise of crushed stone over a geo-textile membrane and will be approximately 4m wide.
The proposal includes a single point of access via an existing access on Welsh Way.
The planning application will be supported by a Constructed Traffic Management Plan which will include a suite of measures to ensure the access operates safely and that the effect of construction vehicle movements on the local highway network is reduced. Advanced notification will be provided for road users and residents ahead of the anticipated 4-month construction period.
The operational access will also utilise the existing access located on Welsh Way. There will be minimal traffic during the operational period with a site visit required approximately once a month for maintenance purposes. Occasional trips would also be made to the site as part of our ongoing planning and environmental management compliance checks.
The site would be operational for a period of 40 years. Once the project ceases operation the land will be restored to agricultural use.
Specialist Environmental Surveys
Specialist consultants have undertaken a range of surveys that have informed the design and will be submitted with the planning application.
Landscape & Visual: The site extends across two fields which benefit from existing landscape screening, within an extensive network of bounding hedges and woodland. We are planning to enhance and reinforce this existing screening. A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment is currently underway and will inform the detailed landscaping plan.
Agricultural Land Quality – We have undertaken a site-specific agricultural land classification survey which confirms that the land is classified as Grade 3b. Therefore, the site is not classed as ‘best and most versatile’ agricultural land (Grade 1 to 3a).
Cultural Heritage and Archaeology – We have undertaken a Historic Environment Desk-Based Assessment of the local designated and non-designated heritage assets and considered the potential for non-designated archaeology. Following this assessment, a geophysical survey was completed across the site to confirm any potential archaeological remains. The outcome of this survey has informed the site layout.
Ecology – An Ecological Impact Assessment is currently being prepared to ensure existing and new habitats are enhanced or created to the benefit of local wildlife. Ecology studies have been undertaken to identify the effect of the proposals and we will use this information to inform the site layout and develop our long-term management plan for the site.
Hydrology – The site is located within Flood Zone 1, the area recognised by the Environment Agency as having the lowest probability of flooding. Regardless, a flood risk assessment will form part of the planning application.
Glint & Glare – We have undertaken a Glint and Glare Assessment which assessed road safety, residential amenity and aviation activities associated with RAF Fairford, Calcot Peak Airfield and South Cerney Airfield. The assessment found:
No significant impacts are predicted upon road safety, residential amenity and upon aviation activity associated with Calcot Peak Airfield and South Cerney Airfield.
No impacts predicted upon aviation activity associated with RAF Fairford
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.
In June 2019, Cotswold District Council declared a climate emergency. The Council is committed to meeting the target of making the Council and the district as a whole carbon neutral by 2030.
The Cotswold District Council Emergency Strategy 2020-2030 (2020) highlights the Council’s target of making their activities net zero of all greenhouse gasses as soon as possible, aiming for an 80% reduction in CO2 against the 1994 baseline by 2030 and a 100% reduction by 2045.
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. The Powering Up Britain (published in March 2023) sets an ambition to increase the use of solar fivefold by 2035, therefore renewable energy developments like the Welsh Way Solar Farm are a key part of addressing the local and national climate emergency.
What will the construction traffic route be?
It is our intention that construction traffic will come from the A417, towards the Sun Hill junction and onwards to Welsh Way. Construction traffic will not travel through Fairford town, this will be set out within the Construction Traffic Management Plan.
How will the solar farm impact food security?
An Agricultural Land Classification survey has been completed and the land has been determined not to be best and most versatile (BMV). The land used for the solar farm forms only part of the landowners available farming land. The proposal also includes planting which will form suitable grazing land for sheep, therefore enabling a dual use of the site and continuation of its agricultural use.
Why does the site need to be located here?
The positioning of a solar site is dependent on several aspects, primarily grid connection and land availability. Our initial approach is to review brownfield sites, however these need to be within a viable distance from the available point of connection. Due to the location of this point of connection, greenfield development is required to deliver a viable development.
By clicking accept you are agreeing to the use of all cookies which will allow us to provide you with the most relevant experience when visiting or re-visiting this website. This means that your personal preferences will be remembered when you use this website. However, you may manage your Cookie Settings to provide a controlled consent.