Q&A – Gayton Solar Farm
Development of a 49.99MW solar farm on the land at Milton Road, South Northamptonshire, NN7 3ER.
Anesco is proposing to construct and operate a solar installation that will connect into the local electricity network, this will comprise solar modules, solar inverters and associated works, including landscaping.
The following provides information about Anesco and answers to a number of questions we have received from the public.
Who is Anesco?
Anesco is committed to supporting the UK government reach its net zero target by 2050 and making the planet a greener place.
As a recognised name in renewables, Anesco designs, construct and maintains solar farms, whilst helping businesses achieve their sustainability goals, through technologies such as commercial rooftop solar and storage.
We are also extremely proud to work closely with the major utility companies to help vulnerable households out of fuel poverty, under the ECO scheme, for which we have helped over 350,000 people to date.
More information about Anesco can be found at www.anesco.co.uk
Quick Question & Answers:
- Does the electricity generated from the proposed development contribute to Gayton’s and the UK’s Carbon Targets? Yes
- Does the proposed site within a ‘Conservation area’? No
- Does the proposed site within a ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’? No
- Does the proposed site sit within a ‘Greenbelt’ area? No
- Does the proposed site sit within a ‘National park’? No
- Does the proposed site sit within a site of ‘Special Scientific Interest’? No
- What is the current Land classification of the land? Grade 3, which is classed as ‘Good to moderate Quality Land’. This land has moderate limitations that affect the choice of crops grown. The yield of more demanding crops grown on this land is generally lowers than high quality land (Grade 1 or 2).
- Will the proposed development enhance Biodiversity opportunities? Yes
- Does a solar farm create harmful pollution, radiation, and noise? No
- Can the land be restored after its temporary life span? Yes
- Do Solar farms require a lot of maintenance? No
Why have Anesco not arranged a public consultation in person?
We have reached out to the parish and held a meeting with them, engaging them early in the process.
In addition, we have encourage feedback from the local community by sending out leaflets, feedback forms, and have developed a site-specific webpage. We have also held a live webinar on the 10th June 2021, which we encouraged members of the public to take part in. A recording of this can be accessed HERE.
All of the above presented an opportunity for Anesco to answer concerns that have been raised or may have been raised on the application.
Anesco has been unable to hold a public consultation in person as we have had to abide by the government guidelines and covid restrictions. The most recent and current rules and regulations specifically state that up to 30 people can meet outside only.
We would not be able to know, or control, how many individuals would turn up from the local community for a public consultation that would have been held outside, other than through the feedback forms we received and this alone exceeded 30 people.
What is the proposed transport route into site? How will traffic be managed and how many deliveries will be made?
Throughout construction of the site there will be low volume of traffic movements. Deliveries will be arranged so that there is as minimal disruption as possible. On average, initially there will be 3-4 HGV deliveries per day, reducing to 3-4 per week for the rest of the construction period, which will be around 36 weeks. The intended route to site is from Blisworth Road to Milton Road, as shown in yellow in the image below:
Detailed swept path analysis has been undertaken by an experienced transport consultant to confirm that the delivery transportation can use this route safely and with minimal impact.
For maintenance, we envisage the same route will be used, but there would only be a total of approximately 10-20 transit visits per year, so very minimal and not large vehicles.A detailed Transport assessment and Traffic management plan will be submitted alongside our planning application that will be available for the public to review.
How will this project benefit Gayton and its residents?
There are numerous ways in which Anesco can work with the local community. A few examples of how we have worked with communities before are:
- The Provision of school talks/seminars about the importance of renewables and sustainability
- School tours of our solar farms
- Inclusion of beehives and other conservation schemes involving members of the local community
- Creation of biodiversity management groups
- We can provide work experience placements to young members of the local community
- Provision of interpretation boards near to adjacent public rights of way
Promoting education is especially important to us to spread knowledge on renewable energy and the importance of our industry. We have a charitable trust set up which helps us do this. There is a lot of information on how we have worked with different people in the past on our website www.anesco.co.uk/charitable-trust.
Why has this site/location been chosen? Is there an alternative location closer to the Grid networks point of connection?
One of the main obstacles, throughout the UK, is finding available grid capacity. It is not possible to simply connect to a network anywhere in the UK. Constraints on the network in the UK are increasing so to enable us to continue to develop renewable projects and meet our net zero carbon targets, we need to locate projects where there are viable points of connection. The district network operator has established there is capacity available to accommodate the exported generation capacity from the solar PV system within this location. This is a unique occurrence and severely restricts the ability to re-position the development in an alternative location.
Asides from this, there are many other features that we consider, prior to submission of a grid or planning application, which ultimately impact on the viability and feasibility of a solar farm development. We also assess the overall setting of the site and whether the location is within any protective designations. The site does not sit in any conservation areas, some of which are listed below:
- Greenbelt areas
- National Parks
- Areas of outstanding natural beauty
- Sites of special scientific interest
- High flood risk zone
We have also very carefully considered the below characteristics:
- Heritage and archaeology impacts
- Land classification
- Landscape and visual impact
- Topography of site
- Biodiversity and Ecology impacts
In addition to the above we make sure we complete a detailed review of the planning authority’s sustainability and local plans. Of course, we also require enough land and a landlord (or numerous landlords) who are willing to lease their land. All these elements are critical to Anesco in evaluating positioning of a solar farm development. We can confirm that we have carefully considered all of these aspects, in significant detail, when progressing with this proposed solar farm.
How will the site be connected to the grid network?
The Solar PV System will be connected into the grid network from an electricity substation located on site, via underground HV Cables, to a 33Kv circuit breaker at Northampton BSP substation.
What is the lifespan of a solar panel?
The solar panels come with a product warranty and a performance warranty from the manufacturer. The manufacturer’s guarantee is that after 25-30 years of generating energy the solar power would be performing at about 80% of what they would on day 1, and at about 70% towards the end of the 40-year lifetime. This proves the panels very much do perform throughout the 40-year lifespan and have been proven to work efficiently for a long period of time. Throughout the entire lifespan of the solar farm, the equipment will be closely monitored and maintained to make sure it is working to its highest potential. If for any reason any component did have a fault or stop working, this would be picked up straight away and it would be fixed or replaced.
What is the total Co2 used on delivery and de-commissioning of the solar farm?
We do not have the exact figures on the total Co2 used on delivery and de-commissioning of the solar farm, however we have done a lot of research and analysis with the carbon trust on Anesco’s carbon footprint.
The Co2 used on delivering the equipment is made up within 6 months of the site being operational. This compared to the overall Co2 savings throughout the lifetime of the solar PV system is a very, very minimal amount.
Why are you proposing to develop on Grade 3 land?
As you can see from the image below, taken from an Agricultural Land Classification Map, most of the land surrounding Gayton and Rothersthorpe (and the point of connection) is grade 3 lands (Good to moderate), some sections grade 2 (Very Good Quality Agricultural Land), and some classed as urban land with little space.
National Planning Policy Framework discourages the use of higher-grade agricultural land for non-agricultural uses (Grade 1 and 2) so we have avoided these areas. The small area of land classed as ‘poor land’ in the map above (highlighted a light yellow) is deemed as not suitable for a solar development, mainly due to the limited space and it’s distance away from the point of connection.
Will Anesco be responsible for the site during its lifetime or is this contracted out once the site is finished?
Anesco will initially be responsible for the ongoing maintenance and monitoring of the solar farm for which we contract out certain services to local companies where possible. We hope to be able to continue doing this via our inhouse operations and maintenance team for the long term.
How can the solar panels be recycled?
The Manufacturers of the solar panels we use are members of the team PV cycle, which means after the term we can safely dispose of the modules. Please find a website below that confirms the details of how panels can be recycled. http://www.pvcycle.org.uk/
Has Solar PV on rooftops been considered?
Anesco has a wide range of experience with rooftop solar systems and would welcome and support further proposed rooftop opportunities. It is not however possible to directly compare the amount of power a ground mount solar system can generate to that of a rooftop solar system. In addition, the average area available on rooftops throughout the UK, including commercial buildings and industrial units to enable the deployment of solar required to meet our carbon targets is far less than ground mount solar installations. Furthermore, the additional cost to install solar on a rooftop far exceeds a ground mount installation which would mean the levelised cost of energy for solar would be far higher.
How many hours of sunshine are required to meet the estimated benefits of powering 13,340 homes?
Anesco use a detailed simulating photovoltaic system software that confirms the expected generation of our proposed PV systems. The generated energy of this solar farm is estimated to produce 51,105MWh (51,105,540kwh) per year for the duration of the solar farm’s lifespan. This calculation includes a small amount of degradation for the solar modules and uses the UK proven and expected climate data. The amount of power that is used on average, per household, is approximately 3,831kWh per year and would equate to powering approximately 13,340 UK homes.
To access site maps and plans click on the links below:
- Close proximity of a viable grid connection point
- Suitable topography and ground composition
- A suitable grade of land
- The site is not located within a Greenbelt, Area of Natural Beauty, National Park, Site of Scientific Interest or other ecological designation.
- The area is not a flood risk