Renewable Connections has submitted a planning application to Bath & North East Somerset (BANES) Council for a 15MW solar farm and associated cable route on land at Marksbury Plain, Farmborough, Bath. The planning applications can be viewed at:
If you would like to comment on the planning applications, you can do so directly on BANES website using the reference nos. above.
Should planning permission be granted, the project will generate enough renewable energy to power up to 4,700 homes and to displace up to 7,600 tonnes of CO2 every year. This is equivalent to the CO2 emissions of around 4,400 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.
7,600 tonnes of CO2 saved annually
17 GW hours supplied each year
Equivalent annual energy needs of up to 4,700 homes
24 hectares of land enhanced for native wildlife
The site proposed for Marksbury Solar Farm comprises agricultural land bounded by the A368 to the north and the A39 to the east. The project is located in the Bath & Bristol greenbelt.
The site is made up of five agricultural fields to the south west of the settlement of Marksbury. The solar farm will be connected to the existing local electricity infrastructure via an underground cable. Two public rights of way run north/south within the site, and these will be retained and enhanced during the operation of the solar farm. The site has been carefully located to minimise impact on residents and the local community, with development set back from neighbouring properties, and the existing hedgerows enhanced to ensure any potential views into the site are well-screened.
BANES declared a climate emergency in March 2019 and are committed to supporting the UK’s transition to net zero.
A technical review of the potential areas suitable for ground-mounted solar development within the BANES administrative areas was undertaken in 2018 and considered factors such as: grid access, environmental constraints, and human constraints (e.g. the requirement for a min. 50m buffer from residential developments). In this study, BANES concluded that ground-mounted solar development must be permitted within areas designated as Green Belt in order to deliver the quantum of renewable energy development needed to meet climate targets. The areas found to be suitable for ground-mounted solar farms are shown in green on the diagram opposite.
The location of Marksbury Plain Solar Farm is indicated in red and is within the areas considered to be suitable for ground-mounted solar development as per BANES’s technical review. The Council therefore considers that there is an opportunity to realise significant environmental benefits from renewable energy development in this location, without causing unacceptable harm to the Green Belt.
Once installed, the solar farm will have a capacity of up to 15MW and will be operational for a period of up to 40 years from first energisation. After this time, all of the solar farm equipment will be removed from the site and the land will be restored to its pre-existing agricultural use, with the benefit of improved soil health and biodiversity.
The solar panels will be installed in rows which run east to west through the site. These rows will be tilted towards the south to capture the maximum amount of solar irradiation possible. The total height of the panels will be no more than 3m above the ground with a gap of more than 0.5m above ground at their minimum.
Bifacial panels will be used to collect light both on the front and the rear sides of the solar panels, as they capture sunlight reflected from the grass surface under the solar framework. Depending on site conditions, bifacial panels can increase the amount of sunlight captured by up to 30% when compared to traditional systems.
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 solar panel areas will be surrounded by a deer-proof fencing to protect the equipment from large animals entering the site. CCTV cameras will be located periodically around the site perimeter for security.
The panels and associated infrastructure will take up less than a third of the land within the site, allowing for significant biodiversity enhancement measures to be implemented during the operational life of the solar farm. The proposals will include additional landscaping improvements, including new hedgerow planting and infilling.
*The full suite of planning application documents is available to view on BANE’s online planning register using the reference numbers at the top of the page.
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.
BANES also declared their own climate emergency in 2019, acknowledging that urgent action is required in order to limit the environmental impacts caused by climate change. The Council has produced a 10-year action plan setting out the steps that will be taken to ensure the BANES administrative area is carbon neutral by 2030. This includes the development of more renewable energy projects, and a move away from reliance on harmful fossil fuels.
Solar is one of the cleanest, cheapest forms of energy available. Marksbury Plain Solar Farm would make a meaningful contribution to BANES’s energy needs by generating enough renewable energy to power up to 4,700 homes and displacing up to 7,600 tonnes of CO2 every year (up to 304,000 tonnes of CO2 over the project’s 40-year lifespan). This is equivalent to displacing the CO2 emissions of around 4,400 petrol or diesel cars per year.
This site has been identified following extensive site selection across Bath and East Somerset which took into account environmental designations, local electricity network access and capacity, the physical characteristics of the site, and a supportive landowner.
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 Bath and East Somerset Community. The project will support local businesses, provide enhanced business rates, and provide enhancements to wildlife. We will also establish a Community Benefit Fund to share the profits from the electricity sales to support local causes.
Telephone: 01761 502152
Marksbury Plain Solar,
C/O Pegasus Group,
Great Park Road,