– The in-person consultation on Staveley Solar Farm takes place tomorrow Tuesday 24th January at Wing Village Hall between 2pm and 7pm.
– Please attend if you have any views on the solar farm that you wish to express as part of the consultation.
– This is your chance to get your views heard and recorded!
The following has been received from the Staveley Solar Farm team following their presentation to Morcott Parish Council in December:
Thank you for your email and hosting the Staveley Solar Farm team at Morcott Parish Council’s meeting on 15th December 2022. We appreciate your interest in and questions related to the proposed project.
I have spoken with the team who have provided detailed answers in response to your queries below.
I hope these comments help address your concerns about the project. For any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us again at firstname.lastname@example.org<mailto:email@example.com>
Staveley Solar Farm Community Relations Team
Responses to Questions put by Morcott Parish Council to the Staveley Solar Farm consortium:
1. Disruption during the build: what can be done to minimise disruption to residents of construction and other traffic?
We will be preparing an assessment of the effects of the development on the road network and share more details of proposed mitigation and enhancement works as we submit our planning application to Rutland County Council. This will include a Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) (solar farm site) and Construction Traffic Method Statement (CTMS) (cable route) which will have relevant details of how construction traffic will be managed. This could include temporary signage within the vicinity of the site and other measures, such as banksmen at the site accesses, if required.
2. Disruption during normal operations: what will be the effect on Morcott and local villages; how will residents be affected once the solar farm is up and running; how can any adverse effects be mitigated?
One of the key benefits of building a solar farm is that it is has limited impact during operation. The site will require very few maintenance visits during operation, and these will take place on an ad hoc basis (typically once a month). These visits will undertaken by small transit size vehicles and therefore have limited impact on local traffic movements during operation.
3. Visibility of the solar farm: Will the panels be seen from Morcott or its approach roads? Will effective screening be put in place to avoid any adverse views ?
There will be some views of the development from the surrounding roads and Public Rights of Way (PRoW). However, we are proposing a landscaping scheme to ensure appropriate screening is provided where necessary, which will substantially limit visibility once they have matured. The planning application will be submitted with a full Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) which will be prepared by a Chartered Landscape Architect and will also take into account feedback received during our public consultation.
I have also attached two viewpoints from Bridleway E279 west of North Luffenham Roadfor reference. This shows how the site will look during the 1st and 15th year during operation. These viewpoints have been set up to represent an open view across the site during winter and therefore a ‘worst case’. Our Landscape Architect has prepared the following comments to supplement the issue of the view at this stage in advance of the finalisation of the LVIA:
“Please see attached photomontage showing an open view towards the eastern part of the site from a field gate on the southern side of the bridleway. Other views towards the site from the bridleway between North Luffenham Road and Pilton Road are limited by hedgerow along the southern side of the bridleway and by landform and vegetation in the view from the north-western section of the bridleway near Pilton Road. In worse case winter views, there is greater visibility over clipped hedgerow towards the site and some heavily filtered views towards the site through the hedgerow.”
4. What is the likely impact on residents of reflections from the panels when installed and operating? Will there be any hazard from the reflections eg blinding when driving or operating machinery
We will be carrying out a detailed assessment of the possible effects of glint and glare from the solar panels. Solar panels are designed to absorb rather than reflect light and whilst there is the potential for glint and glare effects, the purpose of the assessment will be to assess the potential and mitigate the design and layout if required. This is typically possible by removing or screening panels causing these effects.
5. What community benefits or assets can be put in place to mitigate the overall effect on residents?
We will be organising a community benefit fund as part of the project with a one-off upfront payment of £75,000. At this stage, we have not defined the focus or scope of the benefit fund. However, we are planning to discuss further with Anglian Water’s community team and the affected Parish Councils how the fund can be set-up, managed and utilised for the benefit of the local community and residents.
Thank you for sharing a list of potential projects the community benefit fund could be spent on, which will be considered as the process develops. We are looking at incorporating environmental benefits as part of the project, however, the scope for this could be extended further through the community benefit fund. We will also be inviting feedback from members of the public throughout the consultation events.
6. Destruction and disruption of community assets, loss of amenity, negative effects on local property values: what can be done to mitigate any potential effects?
We have carefully considered and accounted for any potential moderate adverse impact on local communities as part of the development of the project through the site selection process and in other areas of development. This includes building on land mostly classified as grade 3b or 4 (or ‘lower grade’ agricultural land), maintaining Public Rights of Way and proposing screening measures to limit visual impact of the site from the surrounding community. We will also carefully consider and analyse all feedback received during our public consultation to assess what additional measures may be required.
There is very little evidence to suggest that new solar projects have a negative impact on local property values.
7. Impact on the Bridle path adjacent to the solar farm site and other country lanes: what can be done to preserve the bridal paths and the wonderful views from them?
A number of Public Rights of Way (PRoW) are located within or are in close proximity to the cable route, but there are none crossing or in close proximity to the solar farm site. As part of this, all PRoWs and bridleways will be retained in their current alignment. We will provide an assessment of these routes and the potential impact associated with the project in our Construction Traffic Management Plans (solar farm site) and Construction Traffic Method Statement (cable route) submitted as part of the planning application. This will include suggested mitigation for the routes if and where considered necessary.
This will also include signage erected either end of any PRoW which intersects with the proposed cable run. When the horizontal drilling direction (HDD) method is proposed, it may be possible to keep the PRoW open during the laying of the cable with signage, fencing and banksmen, as appropriate. Where the trench and duct method is proposed, the PRoW will be temporarily closed for the safety of users.
8. The construction of the solar farm will cause a reduction in amenity for residents. Will there be a reduction in Council Tax for affected residents and if not why not?
We are not proposing a reduction in Council Tax for affected residents as part of this project. Local Council Tax rates are set by the local authority, in this instance Rutland County Council, and therefore falls outside of our remit. Please note, however, that the project will be subject to a Business Rate levy which will be paid to central government.
9. Morcott will be taking the brunt of the traffic during construction and operation: What traffic management measures will be put in place? A detailed plan of action will be required prior to work commencing. Alterations to the junction of Fydell Row/Wing Road may be required to facilitate safe access.
Our planning application submission will include a Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) (Solar Farm) and Construction Traffic Method Statement (CTMS) (Cable Route) which will include relevant details of the potential impacts onto the local highway network and associated mitigation and management. Please note that we have also submitted details of our proposals to the Highways Authority as part of our pre-application discussions.
Following feedback which we received during our in-person presentation to Morcott Parish Council, I can also confirm that Pegasus Group, the planning consultancy helping to deliver this project, will have their Senior Transport Planner, Alex Snartt, attending the in-person consultation event at Wing Village Hall on Tuesday 24th January. Alex has been working on the baseline assessment of the site access to date and will welcome any further feedback or detailed considerations on the local highway network that should be taken into account as part of your local knowledge and experience.