Welcome to the
Middle Road Solar Farm
Community Consultation Website
Welcome to the Middle Road Solar Farm. On this website we introduce the proposals to you, add more information as the project progresses and provide a way to get in touch with us.
It is envisaged that Middle Road Solar Farm will have a generating capacity of up to 49.9 megawatts. In order to fully utilise the network connection, the proposal will include battery storage which could store the renewable energy for times of peak demand from consumers. The scheme will support Government legislation to decarbonise our energy system and make the UK carbon neutral by 2050.
About the Developer
The development proposals are being proposed by Novergy and Canadian Solar.
The Novergy Team have one of the strongest track records in the UK Solar PV sector with direct involvement in over 1GW of large-scale solar projects, that's about 15% of all sites built to date. The company’s mission now is the origination, development, design, financing, construction and operation of new solar PV in the UK. Novergy is focused on the provision of clean solar electricity, helping to make a more sustainable, low-carbon future.
Canadian Solar, founded in 2001, is a long-standing major player in the global solar technology industry. It is one of the world’s largest solar photovoltaic producers and energy solution providers, as well as one of the largest solar farm developers globally. The company’s mission is to foster sustainable development and create a better, cleaner earth for future generations by generating electricity from the sun. Canadian Solar has a strong track record of projects in the UK including Royston Solar Park (Hertfordshire), Wick Road Solar Park (Somerset) and Pant-Y-Moch Solar Park (Port Talbot).
Canadian Solar and Novergy place value on engaging with parties from all sectors including community groups to understand the requirements of different partners and stakeholders.
Novergy and Canadian Solar will be supported in the preparation and development of Middle Road Solar Farm by an experienced consultant team. Pegasus Group are the planning agent.
Whilst we would usually hold an event locally so that the local community are able to view the proposals and ask questions to members of the development team, unfortunately this is not currently possible given the current situation.
As a result, we will instead host a website based forum with the hope a local drop in event will be possible in the near future.
Why are Solar Farms Important?
The National Infrastructure Committee have advised the Government that by 2030 a minimum of 50% of power should come from renewables. Amongst other things this will require significant increases in the production of all types of renewable energy, including solar.
Planning Practice Guidance supports renewable and low carbon energy schemes like solar farms “to make sure the UK has a secure energy supply, reduce greenhouse gas emissions to slow down climate change and stimulate investment in new jobs and businesses.”
Latest Government energy statistics reveals that in 2019 fossil fuels remain the dominant source of energy supply and account for 79.4% of energy supply.
Only 11 per cent of total energy consumption came from renewables. This represents a significant challenge for the UK to increase its share of renewable energy.
Pegasus as the selected professional planning consultants, are seeking on behalf of their clients, Novergy and Canadian Solar, to develop a ground mounted solar farm with associated energy storage on land at Middle Road Farm, Middle Road, Harbury, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire. The proposal will:
Offer green, clean and sustainable renewable energy which is generated quietly without emitting any carbon dioxide or any other greenhouse gases.
Generate enough clean electricity to power up to approximately 15,000 homes per year over a 40- year period.
Promote biodiversity with native tree planting, grassland and wildflower across the site as well as seeding beneath the solar panels.
Provide appropriate hedgerow management and strengthening to encourage wildlife use and enhancement of habitats and corridors within the site.
Create jobs during the construction phase and operation phase with an emphasis on using local contractors where possible.
Provide a community benefit fund to the local area working alongside local community groups.
Contribute towards the 2018 Renewable Energy Directive which sets a target to achieve 32 per cent of energy consumption from renewable sources by 2030.
Support the objectives of the Climate Change Act’s target of “net zero” by 2050 as well as the UKs proposed legally binding climate change targets of a 78 per cent reduction of carbon dioxide emissions compared to 1990 levels by 2035.
Contribute towards Stratford-on-Avon District Council’s ambitions to take action to mitigate the impact of climate change and reduce carbon emissions. Stratford-on-Avon District Council declared a ‘Climate Emergency’ on 15th July 2019 with a key aim to become a carbon-neutral district by 2030.
This site has been carefully selected as part of a detailed feasibility process which includes the consideration of grid capacity, sunlight irradiation, environmental designations, cultural heritage, ecology and biodiversity, flood risk and land grading. The site has been chosen for a number of reasons including: The area has an increasing demand for energy and this site has a technically and commercially viable grid connection.
This solar farm will not be receiving any government subsidies.
There are no statutory designated areas within the site.
The majority of the site is located in Flood Zone 1 with a small portion of the southern area of the site located within Flood Zone 2 and Flood Zone 3. The site layout will be carefully designed to ensure the development would remain operational and safe during times of flooding. Suitable drainage measures will be considered to minimise impacts on nearby land/roads etc.
The site has good access to the main highway network avoiding the need for construction traffic to be directed through villages and narrow lanes.
The site contains no areas of higher quality agricultural land. The proposal, through its setting (enough space between and under each row of solar panels) will allow livestock to graze so the land will remain in agricultural use as well as generating clean power.
A variety of technical surveys are being carried out to confirm that the land is suitable for solar energy farm use.
The area benefits from a nearby point of connection to the electricity network, avoiding excessive and unnecessary disruption and roadworks.
Pre-Application Advice has been received from Stratford-on-Avon District Council. The advice indicated that Local Planning Policy CS.3 relates to sustainable energy and states that solar energy proposals will be supported where the impacts are, or can be, made acceptable, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. Furthermore, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) screening process has confirmed that the project will not result in significant impacts in terms of the EIA regulations and no Environmental Statement will be required as part of the planning application.
The site consists of two separate parcels of land comprising several fields divided by hedgerows. The A425 is located to the north of the site and connects the settlement of Radford Semele to Ufton. The B4455 (Fosse Way) forms the western border of the site. The southern parcel of land is dissected by the railway line (Leamington Spa- Banbury route) which runs on an east-west trajectory. Beyond the eastern and southern boundary lies predominantly agricultural land, with isolated farm buildings located in the wider area.
Agricultural Land Classification
An Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) survey has been undertaken at the site. The survey has confirmed that the majority of the site forms Grade 3b land (108 hectares) with a smaller portion of land forming Grade 3a land (7 hectares). Additionally, 1 hectare of the site was classified as non-agricultural land.
Highways and Access
Access arrangements are being considered, the site has good access on to the main highway network avoiding the need for construction traffic to be directed through villages and narrow lanes. There is an existing access point off the A425 to the north east of the site from an existing access road to Island Farm.
Once the solar farm is operational there will be very little traffic, limited to maintenance visits undertaken by transit van size vehicles.
Nearby Public Rights of Way will be unaffected by the proposals and will be enhanced where possible.
There are no Listed buildings or Scheduled Ancient Monuments located within the site. The nearest Listed buildings are found within the nearby villages of Harbury and Ufton as well as a few nearby isolated Listed Buildings at Lower Westfields Farm and Harbury Fields. A Scheduled Monument (Roman rural settlement at Windmill hill Farm) is located approximately 1.1km south-west of the southern site boundary. Harbury Conservation Area is located approximately 1km south-east of the site at its closest point. A Heritage Assessment and Geophysical Survey will be undertaken prior to the application being submitted.
The majority of the site is located within Flood Zone 1; however, a small proportion of the southern area of the site is located within Flood Zone 2 and Flood Zone 3. The site will be carefully designed to ensure the development would remain operational and safe during times of flooding. Suitable drainage measures will be included to minimise impacts on nearby land/roads etc.
A detailed drainage and Flood Risk Assessment is currently being progressed.
Landscape and Biodiversity
The site is not located within the Green Belt or an AONB, or any other any statutory designations. The closest ecological statutory designated site is Whitnash Brook (LNR), adjacent to the urban edge of Leamington Spa and located c. 1.5km north west of the site, separated by a number of agricultural fields.
A range of landscape measures have been proposed to reduce any potential impacts on the local landscape receptors. The landscape measures include the retention of existing hedgerows and trees, the ‘gapping up’ of sparse / open sections of hedgerows to enhance screening around the site’s boundaries as well as planting of new hedgerows and trees. A Landscape Assessment is currently being prepared to accompany the planning application.
The future application will also be supported by an Ecological Assessment to identify constraints and opportunities for biodiversity enhancements.
It is acknowledged that solar farms present a unique opportunity for long term biodiversity enhancement. The proposal will aim to achieve that through habitat retention and minimising disturbance, as well as achieving biodiversity net gain by increasing the variety and volume of species on and around the site.
The proposed development is for a 49.9 megawatt ground-mounted solar farm with associated energy storage to include boundary landscaping; security / fencing; wildflower to provide a biodiversity net gain on site; and areas for additional ecological and landscape planting enhancements.
The panels would be laid in north south rows with a space around 3-5m between each row to allow for maintenance, sheep grazing and to avoid shading.
Each panel would be installed on a single axis tracker mounting structure, which would be a simple metal framework mounted on piles driven into the ground, avoiding the need for substantive foundations, and which would have a typical overall height not exceeding 3m depending on existing ground levels, which would be unaltered.
A containerised solution for buildings for the control equipment will be of single storey height located across the site and near the Point of Connection (POC). Associated electrical equipment and infrastructure necessary for the operation of the solar farm will include; inverters/transformers; a client substation; a Distribution Network Operator (DNO) substation; battery storage and spare part storage.
All cabling will be buried underground.
Security Cameras (monitored 24/7) mounted on poles will be installed around the site’s perimeter to ensure the safety of everyone concerned.
A fence up to approximately 2.5m in height will be erected around the perimeter of the site. The fence will include small mammal gates to allow native wildlife to freely enter and exit the site.
Site Access will utilise existing field entrances where possible. Access tracks within the site will be kept to a minimum, they will be approximately 3.5m wide with the purpose of facilitating operation and maintenance of the solar farm.
Being a passive technology with low maintenance, the solar farm will only require low levels of vehicle movements once operational.
The development proposals will be refined as the Middle Road Solar Farm progresses over the next few months and will be presented, for comment, as part of the public consultation for the scheme.
Contact and Feedback
Please provide any further comments you have on the proposal in the text box below.
You can also submit comments by email or post using the details provided.
Comments provided by the local community will be taken into account in shaping the final planning application submission. All comments must be provided by 5pm on Monday 26th July 2021.