Renewable Connections Developments Ltd (Renewable Connections) is investigating the potential for a 22.5 MW solar energy farm in Ragdale, Leicestershire. Once operational, Old Hall Solar Farm could potentially supply enough power for 6,250 homes, and save over 10,000 tonnes of CO2 from being created every year of its operation. The equivalent of removing CO2 created by the annual usage of 6,500 cars (Department for Transport Vehicle Mileage data, September 2021). This would make a valuable contribution towards tackling the climate emergency in Leicestershire and the UK.
As we prepare an application to submit to Melton Borough Council, Renewable Connections is undertaking consultation to inform local communities of our proposed plans and invite any feedback. In addition to a website, an in-person community information event will be undertaken to present our proposals and answer any questions with a feedback process that will run for several weeks after the event has finished.
We welcome any feedback you wish to provide so please do get in touch.
We will be hosting a consultation event on Monday the 25th April 2022 from 3pm-7pm at Hoby & District Village Hall, Back Lane, Melton Mowbray, LE14 3DY. Please come along to hear about the proposed Old Hall Solar Farm and meet the Renewable Connections team.
over 10,000 tonnes of CO2 saved annually
22,495 megawatt hours supplied each year
Equivalent annual energy needs of up to 6,250 homes
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 installed the solar farm will have a capacity of up 22.5MW and will be operational for up to 40 years. After the time, the installation will be removed and the land restored to how it was before, but with improved soil health and biodiversity. 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.
Our site plans are still being developed and we welcome feedback on these before they are finalised.
Proposed views of what the site will looks like from various points in the local area are provided here.
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 to over 6,250 homes annually. Over the lifetime of the project, it would save an estimated 400,000 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted. This is around the same reduction in carbon emissions as taking over 260,000 cars off UK roads.
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.
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.
Solar farms are temporary and the land will be fully reinstates 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 has also committed to a community benefit fund of £45,000 to be made available to the host community and will also be making 5% of the project available for local people or organisations to invest.
Old Hall Farm Solar,
3rd Floor, 141-145 Curtain Road,