OLD HALL FARM
Renewable Connections Developments Ltd (Renewable Connections) is investigating the potential for up to 22.5 MW solar energy farm in Ragdale, Leicestershire. Once operational, Old Hall Solar Farm could potentially supply enough power for up to 5,502 homes, and save approximately 2870 tonnes of CO2 from being created in the first year of its operation. This would make a valuable contribution towards tackling the climate emergency in Leicestershire and the UK.
Prior to submitting our application to to Melton Borough Council, Renewable Connections undertook consultation to inform local communities of our proposed plans and invite any feedback. In addition to a website, an in-person community information event was held in April 2022 to present our proposals and answer any questions.
We welcome any feedback you wish to provide so please do get in touch.
of CO2 saved annually
Please note that these figures are representative of the first year of generation only. As new renewable energy projects are built, the electricity grid will de-carbonise and the relative carbon dioxide emissions avoided per year will reduce. This and all of Renewable Connections projects make a positive impact towards the UK’s net-zero targets
The site proposed for Old Hall Solar Farm comprises agricultural land located to the north east of the village of Ragdale and to the east of Six Hills Road in Melton.
The nearest settlement in the vicinity of the Site is Ragdale village, approximately 250 metres to the south-west and situated within a depression, adjacent to Six Hills Lane. The site is not covered by any national or international designations or assets that relate to biodiversity, landscape, cultural heritage or other e.g. Special Protection Areas, Scheduled Monuments or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, nor are there any adjacent to the Site. In terms of topography, the Site slopes gently southwards. Watercourses run through the south eastern part of the Site which is surrounded by agricultural fields.
An operational 18.7MW solar farm known as ‘Six Hills Solar Farm’ is located directly to the north west of the site and was granted consent in October 2014.
The proposal will also include a package of landscape, ecological and biodiversity benefits that could include the installation of barn owl boxes, bird nesting boxes, bee hives, log piles, restoration of traditional field boundaries, and other hibernacula such as small buried rubble piles suitable for reptile species, amphibians and insect life. Land between and beneath the panels can be used for biodiversity enhancements and seasonal grazing. Existing hedgerows surrounding the site would be bolstered with additional hedgerow and tree planting where required. The new hedgerows would deliver biodiversity enhancements by providing green ecological corridors.
Renewable Connections is also proposing to create landscape buffers to the two Public Rights of Way that bisect the site . These buffers will provide ecological benefits but also seek to minimise the visual intrusion of the solar panels and associated infrastructure.
Our plans are still in the development stages, so our design proposals will evolve as we gather local input and the results of our environmental assessments.
If consented and installed the solar farm will have a capacity of up to 22.5MW and will be operational for up to 40 years. After that time, the installation will be removed and the land restored to how it was before, but with improved soil health and biodiversity due to being left fallow. The power generated will be exported to the National Grid via electrical connection infrastructure to an existing 33kv pylon approximately 3km east under the A46. located to the north-west of the Site.
Bifacial panels collect light both on the front and the rear sides as it captures sunlight reflected from the grass surface under the solar framework. Depending on site conditions, bifacial yield-gain can reach +30 percent compared to traditional systems. The solar could be fixed onto a fixed mounting system, running east to west and orientated to the south. Alternatively, the layout could be based on a tracking mounting system. These rows will be tilted towards the south to capture the maximum amount of solar irradiation possible. The total height of the panels is expected to be around 3 metres. The arrays would be set within a 2 metre high stock-proof fence. The distance between the proposed fencing and existing hedges would vary across the site and would typically be around 5-7 metres.
The proposal is the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of a ground mounted solar farm laid out across various field enclosures across the site.
In terms of the site layout, the solar panels and other infrastructure would be set within the existing field pattern, with field margins (hedgerows and ditches) and boundary vegetation retained. The design will be assessed by planning and environmental specialists in terms of, amongst other matters, landscape and visual, cultural heritage, ecology, hydrology and traffic considerations.
The construction phase of the Proposed Development is expected to last for approximately 24 weeks only. Construction traffic will likely come from the A46 and be restricted from accessing the site via Ragdale Village.
Renewable Connections is committed to ensuring local communities are not impacted during construction
THE NEED FOR THE PROJECT
Following the Government’s declaration of an “Environment and Climate Emergency” in May 2019, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) advised that to meet ‘Net Zero’ targets, the UK will require substantial amounts of new, low carbon power sources to be built before 2050, up to four times that of today’s levels.
Leicestershire City Council and Melton Borough Council declared their own climate emergency in 2019 acknowledging that urgent action is required to limit the environmental impacts produced by the climate crisis. A climate emergency strategy has been produced by Leicester City Council setting out initial proposals to become carbon neutral by 2030.
Solar is one of the cleanest, lowest cost forms of energy available. Old Hall Solar Farm would make a meaningful contribution to Leicestershire’s energy needs by delivering green energy for up to 5,502 homes in the first year of generation.
Why this location?
This site has been identified following extensive site selection process across Leicestershire which took into account environmental designations, local electricity network access and capacity, the physical characteristics of the site, and a supportive landowner who is committed to sustainability, environmental stewardship and community benefits.
Will there be any impacts on local roads?
For a period of approximately 6 months during construction, there will be deliveries of equipment to site. Renewable Connections will put in place measures to manage impacts of construction traffic and these measures will be included in a Construction Traffic Management Plan that will be submitted with the planning application. There will be infrequent maintenance visits to the site during operation.
Will there be any permanent impact?
Solar farms are temporary and the land will be fully reinstated to farmland once the equipment is removed at the end of the project life.
Does solar pose a health risk?
No – solar is a passive technology which doesn’t produce any harmful by-products.
How long will the project be there?
The development proposes a life span of up to 40 years. No later than this, the development would be decommissioned, and the site returned to solely agricultural use. A decommissioning plan will be provided with the planning submission.
Are solar farms noisy?
No – solar farms are not noisy, producing no more than normal background levels of sound similar to wind or distant traffic beyond the site boundary.
What are the benefits to the local community?
Renewable Connections is committed to maximising benefits for the local community including establishing a community benefit fund. As well the environmental benefits of producing low carbon green energy, the project can improve local biodiversity via wildflower meadow planting, hedgerow infilling, as well as other ecological enhancement measures.
GET IN TOUCH
Telephone: 0800 254 5011
Old Hall Farm Solar,
3 Noble Street,