Woodlands Mannington Solar Limited are proposing to build a solar farm with a 30MW (AC) capacity at land on Woodlands Farm located north-east of Horton, Dorset.
We have created this information page and sent an information letter to nearby residents to share project information and gather community feedback. The Woodlands Solar Farm information page will be available to view throughout the planning application process.
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. We will not own the land and so it will be returned to the landowner and therefore agricultural use. The maximum height of the solar panels will be 2.6 metres from ground level and the 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.
Woodlands Solar Farm will be located on the land between the Horton Road and Verwood Road, adjacent to the Remedy Oak Golf Club. The current proposal is for a 30MW (AC) power ground-mounted solar farm, which will provide enough renewable energy for around 8,500 homes.
We are also developing a neighbouring solar farm, North Farm Solar Farm, which is located to the west of Horton Road. These solar farms will be sharing a grid connection into the Mannington Substation.
Benefits of solar energy
The need for renewable energy is greater than ever, and solar is helping to answer the call. Like other renewable energies, solar power presents a ‘clean’ source of energy as it doesn’t release any harmful emissions or pollutants. In 2019 solar energy contributed 4% of Britain’s total electricity generation. This prevented almost 2.7 million tons of CO2and equivalent emissions from entering the atmosphere.
As well as the global benefits of the clean energy produced by solar farms, there are numerous ecological benefits on a local level. Factors such as large single crop fields and urban sprawl have led to a decrease in biodiversity across the UK. Well-designed and well-managed solar parks can help to reverse this by directly providing a wide range of environmental and ecosystem benefits:
- Improving existing flora to provide habitat and food sources for wildlife
- Habitat enhancements for local animals
- Development of sustainable agriculture
- Improving local soil quality
- Planting native grasses and wildflowers to support pollinating insects
Public support is growing for solar with a recent report by Copper Consulting indicating that over 56% of people describing themselves as supportive of solar farms in their local area. Solar Energy UK have also recently produced a myth busting paper about the solar industry. In addition to the environmental benefits there is the potential for more local benefits such as jobs and investment.
Site specific benefits
The solar farm will create a new source of renewable energy for the area. This is in line with the Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy of Dorset Council’s Local Plan. The proposed habitat enhancement will also aim to improve the biodiversity within the site to help support local wildlife. In addition to the benefits outlined above, we also plan to set up a Community Benefit Fund.
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.
Dorset Council have also acknowledged the importance of renewable energy within their Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy. Their hope is for 100% of the council’s energy demand to be green and to do so they need around 4GW of solar to be installed. Dorset Council have acknowledged the requirement for delivery at scale, and have said that ‘every opportunity to utilise renewable energy to meet current demand needs to be taken’. Our project will help to realise the council’s goal of becoming net-zero by 2040.
If the project is granted consent, the construction phase would start in 2025 and take around 28 weeks to complete.
The site at Woodlands covers approximately 40 hectares of land which is currently used for grazing sheep and horses. Most of the land is categorised as good agricultural land (Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) grade 3a) with some pockets of moderate and very good agricultural land (ALC grade 3b and 2). The site is currently used for sheep grazing, and this will continue during the lifespan of the project. After the 40 year period the project will be decommissioned and the land reverted back to its current state.
Ecological surveys have been undertaken on the site to identify the important habitats and wildlife to be considered in the development process.
The site is predominantly modified grassland. We will maintain the grassland habitat and plant a suitable mix of native grasses across the arable areas of the site, which will continue to be naturally grazed by sheep.
On the field boundaries and around the perime.ter of the site there are areas of hedgerow, scattered trees and woodland. These are important habitats which we plan to strengthen filling in gaps in existing hedgerow, planting new hedgerows and planting 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. We also plan to provide biodiversity areas around the site.
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.
A selection of footpaths run through the Woodlands site, access to these will not be affected during the construction or operational period. There may be some temporary rerouting of paths during the construction phase to ensure the safety of the public.
Currently we plan for construction traffic to approach the site from the west along the existing access to Remedy Oak Golf Course. No diversions are expected to be required for construction traffic, and a banksman would be in place to ensure minimal delays to the traffic to the golf club and brewery. During the peak of construction the traffic would consist of an average of four lorry deliveries each day. Once operational the site could be accessed by the existing Remedy Oak Golf Course access and would produce very little traffic.
The planning application has been submitted to Dorset Council and the planning application documents are available to view and download through the Dorset Council planning portal.
Your opinions are important and we welcome any feedback that you may have about the proposed Woodlands Solar Farm.
Please get in touch using the contact details on the right hand side of this page, or by clicking “contact us” below.
- About Woodlands Mannington Solar Limited
Woodlands Mannington 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.