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Energi Generation Ltd develops large-scale, grid-connected solar farms and has been involved with more than 200 solar projects across the UK.


Impact

Landscape

The site does not fall under any statutory or non-statutory designation for landscape quality. The proposed development will, by its very nature and because of the countryside location, have some limited effects in relation to landscape. A landscape and visual appraisal (LVA) will be undertaken for the proposed development that will consider the effects of the proposed scheme on the landscape as an environmental resource in its own right. The LVA will consider the potential visual change of views of the area in addition to assessing the impact of the proposed development on visual amenity.

The site falls within the green belt. The National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 151) explicitly states that “the wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy from renewable sources” contribute to the very special circumstances that will be put forward to justify the development’s location within the green belt. The proposed solar park will not cause a coalescence of two settlements or lead to further urban growth. The proposal itself does not harm any heritage assets owing to the topography of the land and intervening built features.

The Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) lies to the west and is adjacent to the site. There are thick hedgerows and trees on Little Heath Lane that screen the site from the AONB. Owing to the local topography and existing vegetation, there will be a very limited impact on the AONB and its setting. The LVA accompanying the application has assessed the impact of the proposal on the AONB and will propose further mitigation including a hedgerow along the site’s western boundary to reduce any impact.


Access and traffic management

The site would be accessed from an existing access point and the project will include the installation of gates and a turning area. The distribution network operator substation would have separate access branching off from the existing access. This would be maintained for the life of the development. Little Heath Lane connects to the A4251 which connects on to the A41 and Hemel Hempstead.

It is considered that the existing access to the site would be suitable for construction and maintenance vehicles and that, once it becomes operational, the development would create very little additional traffic. The duration of the construction period will be short owing to the nature of the development.

A construction traffic management plan will be submitted with the planning application; this will cover managing construction traffic and, specifically, HGVs accessing the site during construction operational hours.


Public rights of way

There are no public rights of way within or directly adjacent to the site. The footpath Nettleden with Potten End 003 is more than 370m to the north of the site and Hemel Hempstead 091 is about 300m to the west.


Operational lifespan

The development would have a lifespan of about 40 years. At the end of the useful life of the facility, it will be decommissioned and all the associated equipment will be removed. It is considered that the land can then be quickly reinstated for agricultural use.


Design

In regard to the design of the array, each of the solar panels will be mounted on a fixed panel system. The panels are covered by high-transparency solar glass with an anti-reflective coating that minimises glare and glint while aiding in the maximum absorption of the available sunlight. The panels are dark grey-blue in colour and are mounted on a frame of anodised aluminium alloy and galvanised steel. The eastern boundary has also been rounded off to ensure the rise in topography to the east of the site does not result in direct views of the site from the south and the west, as shown on the indicative site layout plan below. Landscaping will also be proposed for the eastern site boundary as well as other enhancements to increase biodiversity net gain throughout the site.


Indicative site layout


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    Privacy Statement

    By filling in this online form, you are agreeing that we can hold and process your personal data in relation specifically to this public consultation exercise. We will only share your personal data with the Energi/ADAS planning team for evaluation purposes only. Your identifiable, personal data will not be used for any other purposes without your consent. We will use your data to:

    • Send you updates about the project if applicable (where you provide us with your contact details).


    Data Protection

    We hold all personal data in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (EU) 2016/679 and your personal data will not be transferred outside of the European Economic Area.

    Full details of the privacy policy are available here.


    Benefits

    Benefits of the solar park

    In 2019, the UK Government adopted a legally binding target to become a net zero economy by 2050, in an effort to fight climate change and deliver a more sustainable society for all. In order to achieve that, the UK will have to increase the production of renewable energy, including solar energy.

    In addition, the generation of local clean energy will support security of energy supply, reducing our dependence from fossil fuels.

    This application presents an opportunity for a renewable energy development that will produce a significant amount of renewable, carbon-free electricity and connect directly to the local energy distribution network, thereby helping to support the nation’s wider renewable energy strategy and meet the government’s identified clean energy targets. The proposal has also been designed to minimise any potential impacts on the environment and to provide an opportunity for biodiversity net gain throughout the site.


    Economic

    There is now a growing demand for renewable energy sources in the UK because of increased awareness of the current climate emergency. Solar farms such as this development present an ideal solution, given their relatively quick start-up times and low maintenance costs.

    The proposal will provide long- and short-term jobs and will support the diversification of an agricultural business.

    The proposed development is a temporary installation that will not result in any permanent loss of agricultural land.


    Environmental

    The proposed development will minimise any potential impacts on the environment and provide biodiversity net gains throughout the site.

    The project will have a life span of about 40 years and is expected to export up to 25,000MWh/y to the local distribution network. Based on the assumption that an average household in England has an electricity consumption of 2,900kWh, the project could potentially provide power for the equivalent of 8,500 households every year.


    Social

    Renewable energy generation will help in alleviating climate change and the social issues that this causes.


    Biodiversity net gain

    The proposed development will minimise any potential impacts on the environment and, in addition, provide at least 30% biodiversity net gain throughout the site. In particular, we are seeking to enhance local habitats by implementing measures such as creating and enhancing existing site boundaries using native species, introducing a wildflower mix across the site and taking the site out of intensive crop production.


    Site

    The proposed site and surroundings

    The proposed site lies about 370m north of the centre of Bourne End and 3.2km west of the centre of Hemel Hempstead. It is currently an agricultural field with boundary hedgerows to the north, south and west. A railway line also runs along the southern aspect and, from there, the land slopes up towards the north.

    Current use of land: Agricultural
    Flood zone rating: Flood zone 1
    Total site area: 32 hectares
    Land designation: Green belt
    Site access: Good
    Point of connection location: On-site connection to 33-kV pole on western boundary


    Indicative site layout


    Photos