Rag Lane Solar Farm Project Information Page

BayWa r.e. UK Limited (BayWa r.e.) and our joint venture development partner, Grϋne Energien Solar (GE), are consulting on proposals for a 49.9MW solar farm on land between West End and the B4058 at Newlands Farm (Rag Lane GL12 8LD). 

This website provides information about the development and contact information should you have any queries. The planning application will be submitted to the planning office within South Gloucestershire Council, and more detailed planning information such as development plans, environmental assessments, site design and detailed drawings will be available to view and comment on as part of the planning process. 

The Rag Lane Solar Farm project information page will remain available throughout the planning application evaluation process, and we welcome your feedback and questions using the contact information provided below. 

About Grüne Energien Solar

We have entered into a joint development agreement with GE to apply our shared technical, development and commercial expertise. GE is an energy development company, specialising in developing ground-mounted solar farms over the last 12 years. GE has a highly experienced and motivated team based in both Germany and the UK to execute solar projects, and has completed approximately 50 ground-mounted solar projects in the UK since 2011.

Rag Lane Solar Limited, a joint venture special purpose vehicle (SPV) owned jointly by BayWa r.e. and GE has been formed to develop and take forward the Rag Lane Solar Farm project.

About the project

Rag Lane Solar Farm is located approximately 2 kilometers to the west of the settlement of Wickwar, on land at Newlands Farm, Rag Lane GL12 8LD. We have chosen the site because it is largely discreet from views, on lower grade agricultural land and has a grid connection point. 

Project Location Map

The current proposal is for a 49.9 megawatt peak (MWp) DC power ground-mounted solar farm, which will deliver a maximum of approximately 40 megawatt AC of clean renewable electricity for distribution to the national grid. This is equivalent to the annual electrical needs of approximately 15,000 family homes. 

The site covers 67.7 hectares of open land predominantly low grade (4 and 3b) agricultural use with fields of various shapes and sizes separated by hedgerows. 

The solar farm would comprise of rows of solar panels mounted on metal frames (tables) that are secured into the ground via simple piled metal stanchions no more than 2.3m off the ground.  The layout will leave space for the public footpaths, sheep to graze, wildflower meadows and drainage ponds.  Hedgerows and landscaping will be enhanced for both ecology and screening reasons. Deer fencing will surround the site.

We are hoping to submit the application this year but ahead of that would welcome any feedback you may have. 

As with any application it will include extensive and detailed reports and assessments produced by our project team that includes: planners, engineers, ecologists, specialists in landscape and visual impact, noise, transport and archaeologists. 

We will seek planning consent to operate the project for 40 years. At the end of the operational period the solar farm will be decommissioned and removed, and the land returned to its previous use.  

We appointed a specialist consultant to conduct a landscape and visual impact assessment, to understand any impacts on views and the character of the local setting, which is a rural background of open fields, hedgerows, trees, isolated barns and agricultural buildings, and overhead power lines. The report concludes that the scheme can be successfully integrated into the immediate landscape without having any long lasting or negative impacts on the setting and character of this rural landscape. Our specialist consultants have also conducted Arboricultural studies (tree surveys) to survey existing trees and vegetation to make sure these are avoided wherever possible, and to identify any mitigation that may be required.  

  • Assessments have identified that no trees would be impacted from the solar farm.

Existing hedgerows will be retained within the development proposal.  There will be a number of small sections of hedgerow that will have to be removed to allow for internal access tracks to be formed and to allow for the construction of the gated access on the western boundary edge of the development. Any small loss of hedgerow will be mitigated through the planting of over 550m of new hedgerows throughout the site.

  • Over 550m of new hedgerows will be planted within the solar farm site. 

There are several public rights of way that cross the site or run along the boundaries of the site. It may be necessary to put in temporary diversions to allow for construction traffic to cross and re-cross these paths, but temporary diversions will only be put in place in order to safeguard pedestrians and members of the public.  

  • Public rights of way will not be restricted at any time before, during or after the construction process.  

It is anticipated that the construction programme will take approximately six months (up to 26 weeks). There will be an average of six visits from Heavy Goods Vehicles per day between the site and Junction 14 and 16 of the M5 Motorway (a total of 12 movements per day, including both inward and outward journeys). We have undertaken a construction traffic assessment which confirms that there are no significant impacts anticipated at either motorway junction or the adjacent public highway network.

The site is proposed to be accessed for construction and decommissioning via the gated entrance on Bagstone Road on the western boundary edge of the site. The existing access via Newlands Farm will only be used for Operation and Maintenance purposes following construction of the solar farm.

The Solar Farm will not generate very much traffic during its operational life, visits would be from the security and maintenance staff.

  • No significant highway impact is anticipated.

Site layout 

The proposed solar farm development consists of the following elements, which you can see on the Site Design Plan:

Solar PV Panels and support structures

The solar panels will be secured to a metal framework which in turn is supported by pile driven foundations. Each row or table will be separated by approximately 3.5 meters to ensure no sunlight is blocked out due to shadows. The solar panels are angled at 25 degrees and therefore the back sits higher than the front edge, facing southwards to capture the most sunlight possible.

The maximum height of the solar panels would be approximately 2.3 meters above current ground level at the back edge, with the front edge of the solar panel elevated by approximately 0.8 meters.

Electrical Equipment

The site will contain electrical equipment to transport electricity onto the local distribution network, with standard inverters, transformers and electrical cabling placed throughout the site. 

Security fencing and gates

The site will be enclosed by deer fencing (wooden poles with metal fencing) and will be approximately 2.1 meters high, and access gates will be provided at the entrance to the site on the western and eastern boundaries adjacent to the access road. 

Internal access tracks

These access tracks are gravel or unobstructed corridors of grass located throughout the site along hedgerows or between rows of panels, linking all the transformer units within the solar farm and providing access for maintenance. 

CCTV cameras

CCTV cameras will face internally into the site and will be spaced at 50 meter intervals along the perimeter boundary fence to ensure the security and integrity of the site.

The cameras will be remotely monitored.  

Spare Parts Containers

The site will have three spare parts containers, these are made of steel and are 6 meters long x 2.8 meters high by 2.4 meters wide.

Solar panel layout design

The project team, consisting of development and project management staff from BayWa r.e. and GE, along with consultant engineers, ecologists, specialists in landscape and visual impact, noise, transport and archaeology, have worked together to design a solar farm which balances the requirement to optimise the energy output whilst minimising environmental impacts.  Throughout the design process the following factors have been considered:

  • Technical constraints such as the topography of the land and flood risk 
  • Offsite environmental constraints such as landscape and visual effects
  • Onsite environmental constraints such as effects on vegetation, watercourses and wildlife

The design and location of the plant equipment and other infrastructure is an ongoing, iterative process but we have developed the following site layout which shows the current configuration of all proposed elements of the project. 

  • We would welcome the community’s thoughts and suggestions on these proposals as getting it right is paramount.

The need for the project

South Gloucestershire declared a climate emergency in July 2019 and are looking at ways of reducing carbon emissions and reducing our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels. With increasing digitalisation and the electrification of power, transport, and heating, there is a growing demand for electricity supply in the UK. The government has stated a clear objective to reduce the carbon intensity of the UK economy as part of efforts to mitigate climate change, and has shown strong support for technologies which generate low carbon, renewable energy. Solar farms produce low carbon, renewable electricity, aligning with government policies and strategies to deliver economic growth and a cleaner environment.  

The proposed development could contribute by adding 49.9MW of renewable energy capacity over its proposed 40 year operational lifespan.

Project Timeline

Submit planning application (December 2020)Submit the required paperwork to South Gloucestershire Council’s planning office and assist with queries and responses to comments as necessary. Expected decision within statutory timelines (13 weeks from validation of application).
Tendering for Engineering, Procurement and Construction Contracts (2021)Assuming planning consent is granted, we would begin tendering for services for detailed design and construction of the project in the first half of 2021.
Discharge Planning consent conditions (2021)When granting planning consent, South Gloucestershire Council will assign certain conditions which have to be met by us within a period of 1-3 years. These typically relate to providing more detailed design and construction plans and confirming any studies or investigations which need reassessed nearer to the time construction commences.
Grid Connection works commence (Late 2021)Grid connection is planned for late 2021.
Construction, Energisation and commercial operation of the project (Early 2022)- Construction of the project is expected to last 3-6 months, with potential impacts on the local community managed in accordance with construction and traffic management plans approved by South Gloucestershire Council’s planning department.

Rag Lane Solar Project Benefits

  • The proposed Rag Lane Solar Farm will provide up to 49.9MW of renewable energy generation that will be transferred into the local grid network operated by Western Power Distribution
  • This scheme represents an important contribution to meeting the legally binding target the UK is required to achieve by 2020, which is ensure at least 15% of energy consumption is sourced from renewable energy. There are further targets beyond this date in 2030 and 2050
  • Local jobs - we are committed to using local labour wherever we can throughout the construction and ongoing operational life of the project. We anticipate at least 20 local jobs will be created through the construction phase, with 2-3 long term jobs through the operational life of the project (security, operations and maintenance)
  • Biodiversity enhancements include:
    • reinforcement of existing hedgerows and the planting of over 500m of new hedgerows along the southern boundary the site
    • planting of native grasses and species within the solar park itself, and wildflower meadows around the perimeter edges of the solar park
    • implementation of a ‘habitat strip’ running through the centre of the site with new planting improving biodiversity, ecological connectivity and enhancements to the public footpath that runs across it
  • Continued agricultural use within the site through grazing of sheep between the rows of solar panels, thereby using the land for both energy generation and agriculture during the operational phase of the solar park. As mentioned above, the land will be returned to its previous use after the life of the project, and often soils benefit from a sustained period without intensive agricultural use

Queries about the project

It is important to us to operate in a responsible and collaborative way, and we therefore welcome you to submit any queries you may have about the development. Please contact us at the telephone number listed on the right hand side of the webpage, or by clicking “Contact us” below, and please also look out for the Rag Lane Solar Farm planning application in December, which will provide more detailed reports and drawings, accessible as public information via South Gloucestershire Council’s planning website and publications.

Contents
    Contact
    Ashley_Photo_Portrait-Image_70x70.jpg
    Ashley McInnes
    Solar Developer
    BayWa r.e. UK Limited

    Facts

    Up to 49.9MW (DC power) generated by solar panels.
    DC power converted to approximately 40MW (AC power) through around 200 small inverter units.
    Approximately 35 distributed Transformer Units increase voltage to 33kV for onward distribution to the WPD network via the site 33kV substation.
    Underground cables will connect the distributed Transformer Units to the substation.

    Why here?

    1. Visually discreet
    2. Available lower grade agricultural land
    3. Area of high solar irradiation  
    4. Good access from the public road 
    5. Grid capacity available nearby

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