Enso Energy, through its subsidiary company Bramley Solar Limited, is proposing to develop a solar farm and battery storage facility on land at Bramley Frith, Silchester Road, Bramley, Hampshire, RG26 5DG.
Introducing Bramley Frith Solar Farm
The generating station would have an export capacity of up to 49.9MW for distribution to the national grid. This is equivalent to the annual electrical needs of approximately 17,000 family homes. The anticipated CO2 displacement is around 25,000 tonnes per annum, which represents an emission saving equivalent of a reduction in 8,000 cars on the road every year.
The battery storage system will supply electricity to the local electricity network at times of peak energy demand and help make the renewable energy output of the solar farm a secure and reliable part of the UK energy supply.
homes powered per year (equivalent)
tonnes of CO2 displaced per annum
Following the finalisation of the scheme design and a consultation programme with the local community, the planning application for Bramley Frith has now been submitted and received validation (Ref: 20/03403/FUL).
Our previous engagement with the community during August and September 2020 enabled the development team to take on-board local feedback and look at ways of improving and enhancing the positive aspects of our scheme. In response to a number of the issues raised during the public consultation process and resident site visits, the design of the scheme has been amended as follows:
- A new permissive footpath (c. 600m in length) along the northeast boundary of Field 2 that provides an alternative off-road route for users of Brenda Parker Way which currently have to walk on Bramley Road;
- A new Nature Area and proposed Forest School Community Area;
- The position of proposed Information Boards on public footpaths advising about solar energy and the biodiversity features of the proposals;
- The re-instatement of an historic hedgerow on either side of a 20m wide public footpath corridor;
- A new Frith Wood Approach Wildflower Avenue along the Brenda Parker Way public footpath;
- Removal of panels from Field 3 and replacement with woodland connectivity enhancement planting and grassland habitat;
- New substantial structural tree belts creating green corridors to reinforce the perception of a solar farm within a woodland setting;
- Boundary enhancement planting where needed to improve screening; and
- Pulling in of the security fencing closer to the panels to create larger zones outside of the solar panels for wildflower grassland planting.
In addition, and in response to suggestions made from the local community regarding wider community benefits, the Applicant is offering through a Section 106 planning legal agreement:
- Roof mounted solar panels for the Silchester Primary School; and
- A £5,000 fund for the Reading University Archaeological department to facilitate the ongoing archaeological investigations into the Silchester Roman Remains.
We held an online public consultation webinar and Q&A session event on 8th September 2020. The webinar included a ten-minute presentation by the project team where they outlined the draft proposals. During the Q&A session which followed the webinar attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about the draft proposals – the webinar is available to watch by clicking the video below.
What are the features and benefits of the solar farm and battery storage facility?
The main benefits of the development proposed are summarised below:
- It will assist Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with local, national and international targets and its declared Climate Emergency.
- Contribute towards the security of energy supply in the Hampshire area through the provision of local, competitive renewable energy supply.
- The project will support the UK’s urgent need to transition to a net zero carbon future, producing significant amounts of renewable energy.
- The proposed development’s panels will utilise bifacial modules which absorb irradiation from the front and rear side, generating c. 4% higher energy yield than mono-facial modules.
Ecological and economic benefits
- The proposals for Bramley Frith solar farm include the reconnection of ancient woodlands through new planting, this will create a woodland bridge between habitats that can be enjoyed by the local community and help nature adapt to climate change.
- Compared to intensive arable farming, a solar farm gives land the opportunity for multiple uses. In addition to energy production, solar farms support biodiversity by encouraging small animals access to the land, with bird and pollinator insect friendly plants and wildflowers sown around the modules (visit www.solar-trade.org.uk/solar-farms).
- There is the potential for a new nature conservation area, betterment of public footpaths, low intensity sheep grazing and overall biodiversity net gain.
- No designated landscape, heritage or ecological designations will be unacceptably affected by the solar farm.
- The land use will be reversed to agriculture at the end of the project life (c. 40 years).
- Enso Energy is committed to using local business suppliers during construction and operation where possible.
Getting to net zero
In May 2019 the Government declared an Environmental and Climate Change Emergency. At local levels many Councils, including Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, have made their own similar declarations and are preparing action plans to tackle Climate Change and its effects. The UK Government has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The ‘Climate Change Act 2008’ target was strengthened in June 2019 to require a 100% reduction in CO2 relative to 1990 levels by 2050 (also known as net zero). This will require a step change in all sectors of the economy, including energy generation. This legislative change builds on previous commitments made by the UK as part of the European Union (such as the ‘European Union Renewable Energy Sources Directive (2009/28/EC)) and United Nations (such as the ‘Paris Agreement’).
Despite good progress in the last decade, which has seen renewable energy significantly increase and for the first-time annual fossil fuel generation being outpaced by renewables, in 2020 renewables accounted for approximately 43% of the UKs generation. Further action is required urgently if targets are to be met.
Recent announcements and proposed changes in law to reduce carbon emissions by 78% by 2035 (bringing forward our current target by 15 years) and ambition to fully decarbonising our power system by 2035 is expected to further reinforce the requirement for change.
The continued deployment of solar farms and renewable energy technologies, including energy storage, more generally are recognised by the Government as a key part of the UK’s transition to achieving a low carbon economy and tackling Climate Change. To achieve net zero by 2050 it will require a rapid and expanded deployment of low-carbon electricity, including solar.
At Enso Energy we are making the idea of a country run on net zero energy a reality. We are one of the UK’s most experienced net zero energy developers.
Our ambition is to use the latest solar technology to make a positive impact on our country and the communities we work with. We are firm advocates for renewable, net zero, efficient, secure and sustainable energy that can be generated, stored and utilised locally. We are passionate about creating positive change for the UK’s energy requirements and carbon commitments.
Our innovative and entrepreneurial approach to subsidy-free renewable energy is assisting the country’s move towards a more secure renewable energy supply and accelerating our combined progress to net zero.
Our approach to consultation during the Coronavirus crisis
Enso Energy agree with the guidance issued by the UK Government’s Chief Planner, which emphasised that planning applications that positively impact the country and local communities must continue to come forward.
Enso Energy believes that it is vital that local communities are able to see and shape planning applications that may have an impact on them. We therefore held a public consultation webinar and Q&A session, a recording of which can be viewed here. If you have any feedback on our draft proposals please fill in the form below.
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