Novus are planning to develop, construct and operate a new solar array and battery energy storage system installation located to the south of the Wrexham industrial estate. The development lies adjacent to an existing solar site already in operation.
The site has been carefully selected and designed through detailed assessments considering grid availability, solar irradiance, heritage, landscape and visual impacts, as well as ecological & environmental designations.
Planning was granted by Wrexham Council in November 2022.
Through the design process a layout has been briefed that considers visual receptors of the site, as well as maximising the energy generation of the panels. A bespoke biodiversity strategy has been prepared that ensures existing and new habitats are enhanced or created to benefit local wildlife, with particular attention to Great Crested Newts. As part of this initiative, our landscape planting, seeding and habitat creation plans will focus on native species. These initiatives will contribute to securing long term biodiversity net gain across the site. The proposed layout includes a variety of ecological mitigation and enhancement measures, including the creation of new ponds, the retention and enhancement of existing hedgerows.
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.
Battery Energy Storage: The modular battery system would be rated up to 12MWh, the batteries are stored in containers (12.8m x 2.4m x 3.5m).
Inverters units: Convert the power from DC to AC and are mounted on the back of the solar panels at intervals.
Substation buildings: A substation (approximately 6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m) is used to connect the solar farm to identified end user.
Transformer units: Transformers (approximately 10.5m x 3.5m x 3.0m) are used to step up the voltage from the solar panels to a suitable export level and are placed strategically throughout the site.
Perimeter fence: Wooden posts supporting traditional wire stock fencing (approximately 2m high) 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.
The site will be accessed using an existing road from the B5130 at Talwrn that already provides access to the site and surrounding agricultural land and was used to deliver the existing Pickhill Solar Farm.
The majority of vehicular movements associated with the development would be during the construction and decommissioning periods. Deliveries to site will avoid peak hours. Safe and suitable access routes for construction vehicles have been identified within the Construction Traffic Management Plan submitted with the application. The construction period for the proposed development is expected to take 16 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
A range of specialist consultants have completed surveys which have been submitted with the planning application, to aid in the design process and to ensure the site is appropriate for development.
Landscape and Visual – A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) has assessed the potential impact of the development upon the character and appearance of the landscape and has informed a scheme of mitigation planting. As it matures, this along with the retained vegetation will screen the development and will reduce its visual impact. The LVIA has concluded that the proposed development would have a minor adverse impact upon the landscape but will have a very limited adverse impact upon the visual receptors. By their nature solar parks, and battery storage facilities will have an impact on the character of an agricultural landscape. The overall harm that would result from the proposed development to the character and appearance of the landscape would be limited and would be outweighed by the public benefits of the proposal.
Ecology – The application has been accompanied by a Preliminary Ecological Assessment. This assessment identified that the site is improved grassland sward and has the potential to support a range of species including bats, breeding and wintering birds and reptiles. Great Crested Newts were also considered to be highly likely, given the proximity of the site to Wrexham Industrial Estate and a GCN conservation and management plan as part of the overall ecological mitigation and ehnacement plans for the site.
Hydrology – Part of the application site lies within Flood Zone C2, the zone defined by Natural Resource Wales (NRW) as being having a high risk of flooding. It has been demonstrated through comprehensive and detailed modelling regarding flood risk, that the development can be constructed to avoid modelled flood levels and would not result in an increased risk of flooding off-site. The application has been accompanied by a Flood Consequence Assessment (FCA) and Surface Water Management Plan.
Arboriculture – The layout of the proposed development has been informed by an Arboriculture Impact Assessment. There are a number of mature trees within and adjacent to the site. It is understood that none of these trees are protected. The PV panels and infrastructure have been sited so as to avoid damaging encroachments into the Root Protection Zones of the mature trees within the site. Trees and hedgerows will be retained and enhanced for their ecological value but also to provide screening of the proposed development.
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. Wrexham Borough Council declared a Climate Emergency in September 2019 and established a Carbon Project Board.
The Welsh Government has committed to achieving Net Zero by 2050. Renewable energy developments like Wrexham Solar Park are a key part of addressing the Climate Emergency. The proposed project will contribute to achieving these targets and the proposed battery store will provide resilience to the National Grid enabling an increased reliance upon renewable sources of energy.
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