Coldharbour Farm Solar Park

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Coldharbour Farm Solar Park

Introducing Coldharbour Farm Solar Park

BSR Energy is preparing to submit a planning application to Torridge District Council for a solar park on land at Coldharbour Farm, Ashreigney, Torridge, Devon, EX18 7NQ. The solar park would have an approximate design capacity of 49.99 MW and would produce enough clean, renewable electricity to power 12,500 homes per year, a saving of 11,000 tonnes of CO2.

What are the benefits of the Solar Park?

The main benefits of the proposed development are summarised below.

  • It will assist Torridge District Council to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with local and national targets, in addition to supporting its strategy for its declared Climate Emergency.
  • The proposed development will contribute towards the security of energy supply in North Devon
    through the provision of local, renewable energy supply.
  • No public rights of way will closed during or after construction of the solar park.
  • New hedgerow planting is proposed to contain and screen the solar arrays from its surroundings.
  • Ecological enhancements including wildflower and wild bird seed grasslands, and a range of breeding boxes for bats and birds are being considered as part of the application. We anticpate that the solar park
    will have a significant positive net biodiversity impact.
  • This is a temporary development, allowing the land to rest for the period of operation.
  • The proposed solar farm will not require Government subsidy.
  • BSR Energy is committed to using local suppliers during construction and operation where possible.

Climate Emergency

In July 2019, Torridge District Council declared a Climate Emergency in recognition of the need to take urgent action in respect of climate change. As part of this declaration, Torridge District Council’s aim is to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Cllr Cottle-Hunkin, Torridge District Councillor and Vice-Chair of the TDC Member Climate Emergency Working Group has said: “It is clear that radical action is needed to fight global climate change. Torridge’s Climate Emergency Working Group is therefore asking the government to make positive changes to enable the planning system to meet the challenge of building the nation’s resilience to the real and immediate climate crisis.”

Our approach to consultation during the pandemic

In accordance with guidance issued by the UK Government’s Chief Planner, which emphasised that planning applications that positively impact the country and local communities must continue to come forward, we invite you to provide feedback on our draft proposals in the following ways:

Fill in the feedback form that accompanies the public consultation brochure.

Please read through the leaflet and provide feedback to us by way of the free post feedback form that came with the brochure

Attend our public consultation webinar and Q&A session on: Wednesday December 16 from 6pm – 8pm.

You are invited to attend our online public consultation webinar and Q&A session event. The webinar will be a ten-minute presentation by the project team where they will outline the draft proposals. During the Q&A session which will follow the webinar you’ll have the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about the draft proposals with members of the project team.

The webinar will be recorded and hosted on our public consultation website so that you can watch it again or see it if you are unable to watch it live. You can of course get in contact with the project team at any time, through this public consultation page

You can register to attend our online public consultation event by completing the webinar registration form. You will then receive an email with details on how to join the public consultation webinar.

You may download a print version of our brochure here

Where is the proposed Coldharbour Farm Solar Park?

The project is situated off the A3124 and is approximately 1.7 miles east of the village of Dolton and 1-mile south-west of Riddlecombe. The approximately 160 acres (64.75Ha) site will be located in several fields
which are currently used for livestock farming. In addition to having solar panels on the site, the proposal also includes biodiversity and landscape enhancement measures, such as the gapping up of existing hedgerows to ensure there are minimal visual and environmental impacts.

Key Figures

Location:Land at Coldharbour Farm, Ashreigney, Torridge, Devon, EX18 7NQ
Technology:Solar PV (ground)
Size:49.99MW
Land size (approx.)160 acres
DNO:Western Power Distribution (WPD)
Land designation:Grade 3b
Contract term:30 years + 15 years (extension)
Planning submission date:Est. January 2021
Planning decision:Est. April / May 2021

Have your say

Please take your time to consider the information within this page, and don’t hesitate to contact a member of our team should you have any questions or matters you need to be clarified.

We would be grateful if you could answer the feedback form and let us have your contact details for the purpose of informing the project design and providing feedback to the Council.

For further information, please do not hesitate to email peter.elms@alpacacommunications.com

  • Feedback Form

    Please complete this form by Friday 1st January 2021. Name

  • Address
  • Contact Details
  • 2. What is the most important issue to you about our proposal, where 1 is of highest importance and 9 is of least importance?
  • Please enter a number from 1 to 9.
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  • Comments can also be made by emailing: peter.elms@alpacacommunications.com
  • Solar farms are the most nature-friendly way of generating power for the grid and support endangered wildlife such as bees
  • Solar makes virtually no noise or waste and has no moving parts
  • Many solar farms are grazed by sheep or combined with other farming
  • Solar is the most popular form of energy generation at more than 80% support
  • Solar works well in Britain –-solar panels in the South of England generate 65% of the power they would in Central Spain
  • Community groups can invest in or set up their own solar farms
  • Cheap electricity from solar farms could put £425m back into consumers’ pockets through reduced energy bills by 2030

Solar is one of the best energy technologies for generating revenue in the UK

  • They generate electricity locally and feed into the local electricity grid using a free source of energy (the sun) to generate electricity on bright cloudy days as well as in direct sunlight.
  • For every 5MW installed, a solar farm will power over 1,500 homes annually (based on an average annual consumption of 3,300 kWh of electricity for a house) and save 2,150 tonnes of CO2. Approximately 25 acres of land is required for every 5 megawatts (MW) of installation.
  • They represent time-limited, reversible land use and provide an increased, diversified and stable source of income for landowners.
  • They may have dual purpose usage with sheep or other animals grazing between rows, and can help to support biodiversity by allowing small animals access to otherwise fenced-off land, with bird and insect fodder plants and wildflowers sown around the modules.
  • If 10,000MW of solar was installed on the ground, it would only use 0.1% of UK agricultural land area, whilst being able to generate enough electricity for over 3 million homes.
  • There are no moving parts, and maintenance is minimal compared to other technologies
  • There is no by-product or waste generated, except during manufacturing or dismantling.
  • They have lower visual and environmental impacts than other forms of power generation
  • Renewables give consumers the choice of buying green electricity and reduce reliance on fossil fuels

COMMON MYTHS ABOUT SOLAR FARMS

Solar Parks cause flooding

When rain falls on an individual solar panel, it runs across the surface, drops to the ground and collects in tiny rivulets.  These rivulets are effectively managed by a special system of small channels and mounds of soil which slow the flow of water so it is absorbed into the ground more quickly.

BSR Energy uses independent specialist consultants, such as Yellow Sub Geo to carry out a Flood Risk Assessment for each of its planning applications.  Yellow Sub Geo has calculated that a typical solar park can increase the risk of flooding by 0.01%.  The bespoke water management system accommodates this increase and can actually reduce the risk of flooding.

Solar Parks emit a glint/glare which is dangerous to passing motorists and aircraft

Poly-crystalline solar panels are designed to absorb light, which is why they are dark in colour, and they have anti-reflective coatings to reduce reflection.  As a result the panels absorb between 82-90% of the light they receive, which is much greater degree of light absorption than other features in a landscape including water, grass and trees.

Solar Parks use agricultural land that would otherwise be used to grow food

BSR Energy recognises that the provision of renewable, non-imported energy should not be at the expense of maintaining a supply of home-grown foods.  It supports this principle by ensuring it doesn’t apply for solar parks on prime agricultural land.  Using the government land grading of 1 to 5, this means not using Grade 1 land, avoiding Grade 2 land and grazing sheep on the land it does build on, which is typically Grade 3a, 3b and 4.

Solar Parks are noisy

There are three potential noise sources from a working solar park – the inverters, transformers and substations that are used to regulate the production of electricity.  For each of these, the operational noise level can be up to 60dBA (decibels) within a few metres of the source, which is quieter than an average conversation.  Noise is rarely an issue.  In very quiet areas, special equipment can be used to reduce noise further.

Solar Parks destroy wildlife

When BSR Energy plans a solar park it ensures there will be no adverse impact on natural habitat.  It uses deer fencing with 10cm gaps at the base to allow wildlife to roam freely, and in many cases actually increases biodiversity through planting new hedgerows and trees.

For each site independent specialist consultants carry out a survey of natural habitat – it is their job to ensure that no wildlife will be harmed and that BSR Energy’s planning applications include measures to enhance biodiversity.  Landowners of BSR Energy’s operational solar parks report that their sites have seen an increase in fauna, and that in the absence of pesticides and fertilisers, wild flowers have colonised on the edges of the land.

Solar have a negative ‘carbon footprint’

A solar PV panel mounted in the UK, will produce many times over the energy required for its production.  Life cycle assessments look at the energy/carbon payback time through a panel’s production, operation and disposal, and studies have shown that payback periods range from 2-7 years.  Though all studies have different ‘boundaries’ and variables to consider payback of carbon, they all agree that the solar PV does not require more energy to produce than it creates.

AN OVERVIEW

How a solar farm works

Solar panels produce energy from light which is fed along cables to an electrical connection that combines the input from multiple panels.  This feeds into an inverter which turns the electricity from DC to AC.

Immediately next to each inverter is a transformer that increases the AC voltage to that of the local grid.  Each transformer on the site feeds into electrical switch gear that links the solar farm to the distribution network operator’s (DNO) substation.

From here it enters the national grid and is available for local businesses and homes.

The whole system feeds constant live data back to the office so that the operations and maintenance team knows how well the site is performing.

The physical structure

Solar panels are mounted on steel frames which are arranged in rows, with an approximate total height of between 2.5m and 3m.  There is a ground clearance of 0.8m below the base of the solar panels to allow for the grazing of sheep.  In most cases, the steel frames are driven directly into the ground, to a depth of 1.5m using small piling rigs.  This negates the need for concrete and limits disturbance of the land.

A number of sealed inverter housing units are located within each site – how many depends on the size of the project.  Each unit is approximately 7m x 3m x 3m and has an adjacent open air transformer which is about 2 cubic meters.  In addition, each solar farm requires a DNO sub-station and a private sub-station.  These are typically located close to the overhead lines and measure about 40x40m in total.  They are designed to blend as naturally as possible with the surroundings.

Construction

  • A typical build period for a 50MW (200acre) site is 4-6 months
  • We do everything possible to minimise disruption or nuisance to the local community
  • Site facilities are delivered at the beginning and end of this period
  • The main traffic relates to delivery of panels and frames which arrive on lorries.

Security

  • 2m high wire mesh fencing is installed around the perimeter of the solar farm
  • This is typically green unless the Local Planning Authority require otherwise
  • The fence contains sensors that can withstand rubbing from sheep
  • Thermal imaging cameras are installed and are operational 24 hours per day
  • Thermal imaging cameras can detect and distinguish between human and wildlife
  • If a detector is activated, an alert is sent to the remote monitoring company who act as required

On-going land management

We have a specialist Land Management Team responsible for implementing landscape and environmental strategy.

As well as grazing sheep, the passive nature of solar installations provides unique opportunities to create wildlife habitats, a safe haven for pollinators and improved biodiversity through careful, environmentally-sensitive land management.

Natural screening is provided by existing hedges which are maintained and improved when necessary.  New hedgerows of indigenous flora can be planted, usually in 3 rows that reach maturity at 4 years.  Where instant screening is required, planting includes more mature trees of 2-2.5m high.

End-of-life policy

In the UK, a solar farm’s operational life is usually related to planning consent – 30 years.  The land retains its agricultural classification unless it was a brownfield site.

Our policy is to remove all equipment and return the land to its original state.  Many components are re-saleable and the panels go to a specialist recycling organisation.

THE LAND REQUIREMENTS

There are a number of considerations related to identification of the perfect solar site and a few which rule out a site automatically, such as no capacity on the local grid.  Below is a list of our preferred site criteria.

Preferred site criteria

  • Up to 200 acres in as few fields as possible to minimise shading from hedges
  • Ideally, land that is flat or that has a gentle south-facing slope
  • Free of large trees and shrubs or anything that might create large periods of shade across the middle of the land
  • Preferably, lower grade land or a brownfield site
  • Away from listed buildings and monuments
  • Minimal visibility from residential properties
  • Easily accessible by large vehicles for construction purposes.