Novus are proposing a solar farm development on land at South lynch Farm. This solar farm will be connected into the local electricity grid with an output power of 20MW(Megawatts), enough to power 4,722 homes and save 4,054 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
The site has been carefully selected and designed during a detailed assessment process considering grid availability, solar irradiance, heritage, landscape & amenity, ecology & environmental designations, access and agricultural land quality.
An important part of the development process is to engage with the local community and so we are hosting a drop-in event for residents to learn more about the proposal, ask questions and provide feedback on 4th October between 3pm-7pm at The IncuHive Space, Hursley Park Campus, Hursley Park Road, Winchester, SO21 2JN.
The feedback from the community consultation event will influence the design and details of the planning application which will be submitted to Winchester City Council.
The South Lynch solar farm proposal has now been submitted to Winchester City Council. The application reference for this is 23/01025/FUL.
We have recently submitted a pre-application advice request to Winchester City Council and the response will further inform the forthcoming planning application. If approved, the development would be constructed over a period of approximately four months. The solar farm would then be operational for a period of 40 years, needing only occasional maintenance. At the end of this period the development would be decommissioned, and the land restored to the previous condition.
Initial site specific surveys have resulted in an iterative design process and has informed the current layout. This includes removal of panels from the land to the east as this has been found to have archaeological remains.
The site benefits from mature and effective woodland screening, minimising visual impact from Sarum Road, Crab Wood and Sparsholt Road. The layout plan includes planting of hedgerows in the north east corner, at the Sarum Road/Sparsholt Road cross roads to enhance screening of the proposal.
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 3m using frames fixed to the ground with piled posts or ground screws.
Inverter Units: Convert the power from DC to AC current 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. These will approximately measure 6.1m (length) x 2.4 m (width) x 2.6m (height).
Transformer Units: Required for each section of the solar farm to step the voltage up to a suitable export level. These will approximately measure 10.5m (length) x 3.5m (width) x 3m (height).
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.
Construction vehicles will access the site via the existing farm entrance on Farley Mount Road. A transport consultant will prepare the routing strategy for construction traffic and set out measures to reduce the effect of construction traffic, in agreement with the local highway authority, Hampshire County Council.
Advanced notice will be provided for local residents ahead of the anticipated 16-week 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. Maintenance vehicles will access the site via the existing farm entrance on Farley Mount Road.
Specialist Environmental Surveys
A range of Specialist consultants have undertaken surveys to be submitted with the planning application, to aid the design process and ensure the site is appropriate for solar development.
Landscape & Visual: The site extends across the northern areas of two large fields. It benefits from established screening on the north, east and west boundaries and the proposal includes additional planting on these boundaries to enhance the screening. Additional planting will be completed on the southern boundary to reduce views from the south. A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment is currently underway.
Cultural Heritage and Archaeology: A site specific Archaeological Desk Based Assessment has been completed and subsequently a geophysical survey. This has found ditch features in the north-eastern area of the wider landholding. As such the panels have been removed from this area to the area shown on the layout plan. Appropriate further investigations will be undertaken following discussions with Winchester City Council along with further heritage assessments.
Land Quality: An assessment of the soil quality is currently being undertaken which will conclude the agricultural land classification as currently identified by the Natural England classification maps as Grade 3. It is expected that the land will be taken out of intense agricultural production and be able to rest whilst the solar farm is in place.
Ecology: A bespoke biodiversity strategy is being prepared that ensures existing habitats are enhanced and new habitats created to the benefit of local wildlife. Whilst the Environment Act 2021 requires new development to deliver a measurable biodiversity net gain (BNG) of 10% , Novus have committed to a significant BNG increase at South Lynch Farm, well above the 10% requirement.
Hydrology: A site specific flood risk assessment has been undertaken which ensures the proposed solar farm will not result in flooding in the local area and suitable on-site drainage systems will be outlined in the planning application.
Renewable 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.
Winchester City Council declared a climate emergency in June 2019 and is committed to becoming a carbon neutral local authority by 2024 and aims for the wider district to be carbon neutral by 2030.
The United Kingdom is the first major economy to pass a net zero emissions law, requiring all greenhouse gas emissions to reach Net Zero by 2050, with a target to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035. For this to be achieved an extra three gigawatts of solar derived energy will be required. Solar farms like South Lynch Farm will play a key role in reaching this target and addressing the Climate Emergency.
What will the construction traffic route be?
It is our intention that construction traffic will come from Junction 11 of M3, via Badger Farm Road, A3090, Sparsholt Road and then Farley Mount Road.
How long will construction take?
It is expected that construction will take approximately 16-weeks. A Construction Traffic Management Plan will form part of the planning application and detail the expected vehicle movements.
Will access to Farley Mount Country Park or Crab Wood be altered?
No, the site will be access from the south, off the A309. Construction vehicles will not use the routes to the north and access to the Country Park and Wood will not be altered or obstructed.
How will the solar farm impact food security?
An Agricultural Land Classification survey is currently underway. The land used for the solar farm forms only part of the landowners available farming land. The rent for the land of the solar farm allows financial security for the landowner to continue farming the remaining farm land. The proposal also includes planting which will form suitable grazing land for sheep, therefore enabling a duel use of the site and continuation of its agricultural use.
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