BSR Barton Close Farm Solar Park, Devon
BSR Energy’s proposals for Land at Bakers Road would deliver the following:
- A solar development with a total export capacity of up to 49.99 MW. This is the equivalent energy production to powering 12,501 homes every year, resulting in the reduction of 11,072 tonnes of CO2 per year being emitted into the atmosphere.
- A minimum of 60% increase in biodiversity net gain for the site, this not only meets but far exceeds the minimum 10% target outlined by the government in the Environment Act 2021. As part of this, existing habitats on site will be retained and managed, to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on the existing condition of the habitat over the lifespan of the development.
- Improvements to the condition of existing habitats, as well as facilitating the creation of new habitats. This could include:
- The creation of new native hedgerows where required;
- Infill hedgerow planting where gaps occur in the existing vegetation, for betterment of the existing landscape and along the By-Way and Public Right of Way (PROW); and
- The creation of species rich grassland across the entire site, including rough grassland along the bases of existing vegetation.
Proposed site layout plan
- The proposed solar development would have an operational lifespan of 40 years, meaning that following the decommissioning the land can be returned to agricultural use.
- Throughout the lifespan of the solar development, there is a significant opportunity for biodiversity to continue and thrive on the site. This is because solar developments take up less than 5% of the land, which will allow for plants to continue to grow and animals to still pass through the site.
- Solar energy is an affordable and efficient form of green energy which is an important part of ensuring the energy independence of the United Kingdom and working towards meeting the Government set target of net zero by 2050, as well as the COP26 targets for keeping global temperature rise below 1.5°C.
- Secure the future of a local family run farm, allowing them to continue to be used for food production for the foreseeable future.
- A Community Benefit Fund will be created, offering a total of £49,990 (£1,000 per MW) in grants available to directly support local projects and benefit the local community.
- The creation of jobs through installation, ongoing maintenance, and decommissioning, helping to further support the local economy.
The above site layout plan indicates the proposed location for the solar panels, underground cable connection route, and substation location.
The global climate is changing faster than we have ever seen before, evidenced by the UK experiencing the hottest day on record this summer, to official drought declarations as a result of the uncharacteristically hot, dry weather. Conditions which are set to continue and worsen if we don’t act now to make the transition to clean and renewable energy sources. By supporting renewable energy schemes, such as the one we are proposing at Knowl Green, we are taking an important step forward in the fight against climate change and will be helping to contribute towards a secure and stable supply of electricity for the United Kingdom.
Planning submission update
Thank you to everyone who provided feedback during the consultation. Our consultation period has now closed. Following an extensive review of all the feedback received as part of our recent public consultation, resulting in a number of changes to the proposals, we have now submitted an application to Braintree District Council (REFERENCE NUMBER: 23/01413/FUL). Please refer to the ‘Downloads’ page to view our ‘Consultation Feedback Summary’.
During the five-week consultation period with the local community, which included an in-person consultation event and engagement with a variety of local stakeholders, it was found that:
- Support is high for tackling the climate crisis, with 90.63% of respondents agreeing, or somewhat agreeing that we need to take steps to do so.
- 77.4% of respondents agreed or somewhat agreed that building new solar developments will contribute to reducing carbon emissions and reach the Government’s target of Net Zero by 2050.
- 50% of respondents agree or somewhat agree that building new solar developments will assist with the current cost of living crisis.
- Concerns were raised by a number of respondents about the land being removed from agricultural use.
- The suitability of the roads along the proposed construction traffic route were also a concern to respondents, with some particularly concerned about the damage that could be caused to the local road network by construction traffic.
- Biodiversity Net Gain is important to respondents, with 60% saying that the minimum 60% Net Gain which would be delivered as part of the proposals is very important or important.
- 81% of respondents said that it was very important or important that the site is returned to agricultural use following the decommissioning of the solar development.
- Respondents strongly support the improvement and creation of habitats as part of the proposals with 97% of respondents saying this was either very important or important to them.
In total, the consultation was advertised to 2,250 addresses surrounding the site through a direct leaflet mailing, 150 letters were also issued to close neighbouring residents and businesses. The consultation was also promoted across social media using targeted Facebook and Instagram adverts. 32 responses were received across the consultation period.
Of these, only 9.4% expressed strong views against the proposals with the majority of respondents either expressing neutral views or support for the delivery of solar in this location. Concerns raised mainly centred around the perceived visual impact of the proposed development, the impact on, and suitability of, the local roads network for construction traffic, and the belief that the land should remain in agricultural use.
In light of the feedback received, the project team has carefully considered any amends that can be made to the proposals, ahead of submission, that would seek to further mitigate any perceived negative impacts of a solar development in this location. This has included:
- Removal of the second construction compound to the north east of the site. This follows on from concerns that were raised regarding the diversion of construction traffic along Hickford Hill.
- The addition of planting to further mitigate any visual impacts of the development. This additional planting includes: three rows of trees to provide additional screening, one along the boundary with Cutbush Farmhouse and the associated barn; one along Baker’s Road on the southern boundary; and one along the site access track going north from the main site entrance.
BSR is providing Biodiversity Net Gain of 179.96% for habitat and 53.59% for hedgerow, which far exceeds the minimum 10% target outlined by the Government in the Environment Act 2021. As part of this, existing habitats on site will be retained and managed, to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on the existing condition of the habitat over the lifespan of the development. The site can also be utilised for sheep grazing whilst the solar development is operational, and should planning permission be granted, the land can be reverted back to agricultural use at the end of its 40-year operational lifespan with no detrimental impact to the quality of the land. Something which BSR hopes will be a comfort to those respondents that were keen for the land to remain in agricultural use.
Overall, the feedback received was balanced, with a number of people noting support for the project or providing suggestions for additional mitigation.