Renewable Connections has submitted a planning application to North Northamptonshire Council (NNC) for a solar farm up to 26MW on land to the south of B570 Gipsy Lane, Irchester, Wellingborough. The planning application can be viewed at:
If you would like to comment on the planning application, you can do so directly on NNC’s website using the reference no. above.
Should planning permission be granted, the project will generate enough renewable energy to power up to 7,500 homes and to displace up to 13,000 tonnes of CO2 every year. This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of around 9,700 petrol or diesel cars.
Prior to submission of the planning application, Renewable Connections held an online community consultation event. The slides presented can be viewed using the link below.
29,700 megawatt hours supplied each year
Equivalent annual energy needs of up to 7,300 homes
24 hectares of land enhanced for native wildlife
13,000 tonnes of CO2 saved annually
The London Road Solar Farm site and surrounding areas are predominantly rural in nature. The site was historically worked for Ironstone before being decommissioned in the 1940s and is now fully restored for agricultural use. The site is located 150m from the western edge of the village Of Irchester, to the southeast of Wellingborough, and to the immediate south of Little Irchester Country Park. The site is bounded to the north by B570 Gipsy Lane, and to the west by A509 London Road. The eastern boundary is formed of native hedgerow, beyond which is agricultural land. The southern hedgerow boundary separates the site from the farmland of Wollaston Lodge.
Access to the site is via an existing field gate on the western boundary of the site off the A509. There is also an access point located alongside the northern boundary.
Only two thirds of the site is proposed to be used for solar farm equipment, with the remaining third being retained for ecological enhancement including wildflower meadow planting.
The location and layout of the solar farm has been informed by extensive environmental assessment work in consultation with NNC.
Once installed, the proposed solar farm will have an export capacity of up to 26MW and will be operational for a period of up to 40 years. At the end of this 40-year term, the solar farm will be fully decommissioned and removed from the site with equipment re-used and recycled where possible. The site will then return to its current agricultural use, with the benefit of improved soil health and biodiversity as a result of the 40-year fallow period.
The proposed solar farm will connect to Wellingborough substation via existing powerlines and underground cabling, so no new pylons will be required as a result of this development.
We are proposing to use a “tracking” solar panel system on this site. These types of panels are able to track the movement of the sun during the day by tilting on a fixed axis in order to maintain the optimum angle of incidence. This will mean that the solar farm will generate a higher output than a fixed solar panel system over the same period, increasing the amount of renewable energy which can be produced by this solar farm. As a result, the tracking solar panels will be installed in rows along a north / south orientation in order to allow the panels to tilt as the sun moves from east to west during the day.
The total height of the solar panels will be no more than 3m above the ground, with a gap of at least 0.5m above the ground at a minimum.
Small electric cabins will be located amongst the panels and these will be accessed by a network of crushed stone track which will run through the site. All of the panels will be surrounded by a deer fencing to protect the equipment from large animals entering the site. CCTV cameras will be located periodically around the site perimeter for security.
The proposed solar farm will include additional landscaping and ecological enhancement areas, including hedgerow planting and new habitat creation, in order to help screen the development from nearby roads and footpaths, as well as to improve the biodiversity of the site.
The UK Government declared a Climate Emergency in May 2019, setting out their commitment to achieving net zero by 2030.
The newly formed North Northamptonshire Council declared their own Climate Emergency in July 2021, reaffirming the local commitment to achieving net zero.
In August 2021, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) published their Sixth Assessment Report whose findings have been described by the UN Secretary-General as a “code red for humanity”. In order to avoid the climate disaster that would be caused by global warming of more than 1.5 degrees, it is imperative that we cease burning fossil fuels immediately and move to rely on renewable sources of energy instead.
Analysis from the Climate Change Committee (CCC) and other independent bodies shows that the UK will need to deploy at least 40GW of installed solar capacity by 2030 in order to achieve our legally binding net zero goals by 2050. Over the last decade, the UK has installed just over 14GW of solar capacity (only 35% of the amount needed) which is largely comprised of utility-scale solar projects of 5MW or above. The scale and pace of new solar development therefore needs to increase significantly over the next nine years in order to achieve net zero by the 2030 deadline.
According to the latest available data from the Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) there is currently 23MW of installed solar capacity within the Borough Council of Wellingborough area, which is well below the average 117MW that needs to be installed by each of the 343 local authorities in England in order to meet the UK’s 40GW target for solar capacity generation. The 26MW solar farm we are proposing in this location would double current installed capacity in the local area, and make a significant contribution to North Northamptonshire’s climate change targets.
This site has been identified following an extensive site selection exercise across North Northamptonshire, which took into account environmental designations, available capacity on the local grid network, the physical characteristics of the site, and the need to find a landowner supportive of our solar farm proposals.
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 submitted with the planning application. There will be infrequent maintenance visits to the site during operation.
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.
No – solar is a passive technology which doesn’t produce any harmful by-products.
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.
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.
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.
Telephone: 0800 254 5011
London Road Solar,
141-145 Curtain Road,