Novus are planning to develop, construct and operate a new solar installation located on land at North Preston Farm, to the North of Preston Bowyer and east of Milverton. The site will have the ability to generate 25MWp of renewable energy, enough to power 6,844 homes and save 6,339 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
The site has been carefully selected and designed during a detailed assessment process considering grid availability, solar irradiance, heritage, landscape & amenity, ecology & environmental designations, access, and agricultural land quality.
An important part of the development process is to engage with the local community and so we are hosting a drop-in event for residents on the 17th of May from 3-7pm at the Victoria Rooms, Fore street, Milverton, Taunton, TA4 1JU.
Once taking into account the community’s feedback to influence our design we will submit our planning application to the Somerset West and Taunton Council.
The iterative design process has informed a layout which provides a buffer from adjacent land uses and potential receptors of the site. The site also benefits from mature and effective woodland screening, minimising visual impact.
A public footpath passes through the site, the development fences have been set back to retain a wide corridor whilst the northern section will see the addition of a new native hedgerow planted.
The layout plan includes the reinstatement of historic hedgerows and ponds removed for modern farming practices.
The solar farm will be made suitable for grazing within the fenced area and seeded with an appropriate grassland mix. The margins of the site outside the fence can be used for other habitat enhancements such as wildflower seeding which will boost the biodiversity both and off site.
Solar Panels: The solar panels will be mounted with a maximum rear height of approximately 3m using frames fixed to the ground with piled posts or ground screws.
Inverters units: Convert the power from DC to AC and are mounted on the back of the solar panels at intervals.
Substation buildings: approximately 6.1m x 2.4m x 2.6m and required to connect the solar farm to the local electricity network, and meter the production.
Transformer units: approximately 10.5m overall x 3.5m x 3.0m will be required for each section of the solar farm to step the voltage up to a suitable export level.
Perimeter fence: approximately 2 metres high, consisting of wooden posts supporting traditional wire stock fencing to match the local vernacular as required by the local authority. Infrared CCTV cameras may be required which would look along the fence line with no exterior lighting required anywhere on site.
Access to the site will use an existing farm entrance from the B3227 eastbound, and therefore there will be no traffic through the town of Milverton.
Traffic management measures will be employed to ensure safe entry and exit from this junction.
Advanced notification will be provided for road users and residents ahead of the anticipated 16-week construction period.
Upon completion of construction there will be minimal traffic during the operational period with maintenance only requiring a site visit roughly once per month.
Specialist Environmental Surveys
A range of specialist consultants have undertaken surveys to be submitted with the planning application to aid in the design process and ensure the site is appropriate for solar development.
Landscape & Visual: The site extends across three very large fields, well screened within an extensive network of bounding hedges and woodland. A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment is currently underway.
Land Quality – An assessment of the soil quality has been conducted. It’s expected that the land will be taken out of intense agricultural production and be able to rest whilst the solar farm is in place. There should be no long term affect to soil quality as a result of the solar farm construction and overall soil health will improve over the operational lifetime.
Cultural Heritage and Archaeology: No designated heritage assets are located within the proposed development. A geophysical survey of the site has identified few archaeology features. The assessment will include listed buildings and historic built form.
Ecology – Typical farmland species have been observed. Enhancements will encourage wildlife within the site. The hedgerow network will be retained and reinforced, and the site seeded as meadow preventing further soil erosion.
Hydrology – A flood risk assessment is underway to ensure the proposed development is not at risk from surface water or river flooding and to employ mitigations if necessary.
Noise – Modelling is underway to assess the potential noise impacts during construction or because of electrical infrastructure during operation. There is expected to be low to negligible impact. Mitigation measures can be applied if necessary.
Glint and Glare – A survey will be conducted to see if the affects of glint and glare will impact any nearby receptors and appropriate mitigations to be in place if so.
Renewable Energy and Climate change
There is widespread awareness of the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and an encouragement to increase the generation and use of renewable energy. Somerset West and Taunton has declared a climate emergency and is committed to working towards making the area as a whole carbon neutral by 2030.
The UK has committed to becoming Net Zero by 2050 and a target to decarbonise the electricity grid by 2035. This requires an extra 3GW of solar to be built each year. Renewable energy developments like Ham Farm Solar & Storage Project are a key part of addressing the Climate Emergency.
Will Traffic be travelling through Milverton?
No, it our intention that traffic will access from the east of the B3227, avoiding Milverton. Construction traffic will be subject to management for safe entry/egress onto this road. Following construction of the site there should only be roughly 1 visit per month for site maintenance.
How will the Public Right of Way be affected?
In the construction phase, the footpath will need to be managed for safety and the best methods for this will be agreed with the local authority in consultation with key stakeholders and consultees. Once the solar farm is in operation the public right of way will continue to be accessible with the fences set back and a new hedgerow planted in the eastern field opposite the footpath.
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