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Hill Solar Farm Information Page

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Hill Farm Solar Limited are proposing to build a solar farm with a 22MW (AC) at land on Hill Farm located west of Thurlaston.

We have created this information page and sent an information letter to nearby residents to share project information and gather community feedback. The Hill Solar Farm information page will be available to view throughout the planning application process. 

About Hill Farm Solar Limited 

Hill Farm Solar Limited is a special purpose vehicle (SPV) wholly owned by BRE/GE Solar Developments Limited which is a company owned by BayWa r.e. UK Limited and Grüne Energien Projekt UG (Haftungsbeschrankt). 

About Grüne Energien Solar

Grüne Energien (GE) are our joint venture (JV) partners on this project. With over 12 years experience in solar energy, developing approximately 50 ground-mounted solar projects in the UK since 2011. The Grüne Energien solar teams are based in Germany and the UK. 

Through the development process we also work closely with various consultants with expertise in planning and environmental assessment.    

Project Location

About the Project

The proposal will be seeking consent for a period of 40 years and will be fully decommissioned at the end of this period.

The maximum height of the solar panels on both sites will be 2.6 metres from ground level and each site will also house a transformer which is enclosed within a green building, with a maximum height of 2.5 meters. 

To learn more about the technical infrastructure of a solar farm please click here

Location

Hill Solar Farm is located between the A47 and Earl Shilton Road, to the west of Thurlaston. The current proposal is for a 22MW (AC) power ground-mounted solar farm

Construction Program

If the project is granted consent, the construction phase would start in 2023 and take around 28 weeks to complete. 

Land Use

The site at Hill Farm covers approximately 39 hectares of land which is currently used for farming cattle and crops. Most of the land is categorised as moderate agricultural land (Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) grade 3b) with some pockets of good agricultural land (ALC grade 3a). An area of very good quality (ALC grade 2) land was also identified in south of the site and removed from the original site boundary.  

Although the land at the site will not be used for farming during the lifespan of the project, soil quality will be preserved, and hopefully improved over time, by planting a diverse mix of native wildflower and grass species. When the solar farm is decommissioned, the land will be fully reinstated for agricultural use.  

Aerial picture of Hill Farm

Ecology 

Ecological surveys have been undertaken on the site to identify the important habitats and wildlife to be considered in the development process.

Most of the site is arable land, so is currently of little ecological value. We plan to plant a mix of native wildflowers and grasses across the sites, which will help support the pollinating insects that are important for our wider ecosystem. On the field boundaries and around the perimeter of the site there are areas of hedgerow and woodland. These are important habitats, and no trees should need to be removed to build the project. A small area of hedgerow may need to be cleared for the temporary construction access, but this will be reinstated once construction is complete.

We also plan to fill in gaps in existing hedgerow, plant new hedgerows and plant some new trees around the perimeter of the site. With these improvements we hope to provide a rich ecological environment that attracts and supports local birds, mammals, and insects. 

Landscape and Visual 

We have carefully considered views from both public locations and private properties. In addition to the ecological enhancement that it provides, the hedgerow and tree planting will provide some screening to further reduce the visibility of the solar farm. 

We are currently formulating our Landscape and Ecological Management Plan (LEMP) which will be submitted alongside the planning application. The LEMP will set out all of the improvement measures that we have committed to and explains how we will implement and maintain them throughout the lifespan of the project. 

Access

An unpaved PRoW footpath runs along the north-eastern boundary of Hill Farm, access to this will not be affected during the construction or operational period.

Currently we plan for construction traffic to approach the site from the west along Earl Shilton Road, with a temporary construction road going through one of the fields to the south of the site. No diversions or traffic management should be required for construction traffic and to build the project the traffic would consist of an average of three lorry deliveries each day at the peak of construction. Once operational the site could be accessed by the existing Hill Farm tracks and would produce very little traffic.

Need for the Project

The proposal is in response to a pressing need to create a renewable energy supply and combat the effects of climate change. The UK Climate Change Commission published ‘The Sixth Carbon Budget: The UK’s path to Net Zero’ in December 2020. The report identified that to achieve ‘net zero’ carbon emissions there is a need for, on average, 3000MW per year of solar power to be installed in the UK to reach the required level of renewable energy generation by 2050.   

Example of Ground Mounted Solar Panels

Key Benefits 

The solar farm will create a new source of renewable energy for the borough. This is in line with ‘Strategic Objective viii’ of Blaby District Council’s current Local Plan Core Strategy.   

The proposed habitat enhancement will also aim to improve the biodiversity within the site to help support local wildlife. 

Next Steps 

We are currently aiming to submit the application in the Autumn 2021. The planning application documents will be available to view and download through the Blaby District Council’s planning portal.  

Your opinions are important and we welcome any feedback that you may have about the proposed Hill Solar Farm project. Your comments will be taken into account wherever possible in the ongoing development process leading up to the formal planning submission.

Please get in touch using the contact details on the right hand side of this page, or by clicking “contact us” below.

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