5-1.jpeg?w=1024&h=683&scale
In Planning

Solar

Welsh Way Solar Farm

2,700
Homes Powered
19.8
Ha of Land
13MWp
Capacity
2,000
Tonnes of Carbon Saved Annually

Introduction

Innova Renewables Developments are proposing to construct a solar farm project at land adjacent to Welsh Way, near Fairford. Innova 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.

We have now submitted a planning application to Cotswold District Council.

Why do we want to develop here?

The UK has committed to becoming Net Zero by 2050 and a target to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035. Welsh Way Solar Farm would support the UK’s transition to Net Zero and increase the use of renewable energy through supporting the availability of energy to the National Grid.

Environmental Benefits

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.

overlay

Current planning process status

01

Completed

Community Consultation Event

Our community consultation event has been completed.

02

Completed

Revise Proposals

Revised Proposals have been completed.

03

Completed

Application Submitted

We have now submitted a planning application to Cotswold District Council.

04

In Progress

Decision on Application

Information regarding the decision on our planning application will be shared here in due course.

Rectangle-1-4

Site Design

The site has been carefully selected and designed during a detailed assessment process considering land and grid availability, solar irradiance, access, landscape and amenity, agricultural land quality, ecology, heritage, and environmental designations. We have engaged a team of expert consultants to undertake site specific assessments which are now complete.

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.

Site Access

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 four-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 and 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 and 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

Frequently Asked Questions

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.