Snakesmeadow

Solar Farm

Please note that Snakes Meadow Solar Farm has previously been consulted on under the names “Cranfield Road Solar Farm” and “North Crawley Solar Farm”. For the avoidance of doubt, the information and documents uploaded under each of these names refer to the same solar farm proposals on the same land. Previous  URL : https://www.cranfieldroadsolarfarm.co.uk/

Welcome

Renewable Connections Developments Limited (Renewable Connections) has submitted a planning application for the installation, operation, and subsequent decommissioning of a 45.5MW solar energy farm on land near West End, Stagsden, Bedfordshire.

Once operational, Snakes Meadow Solar Farm will supply enough renewable energy to power up to 15,000 homes, and will make a substantial contribution towards tackling the climate emergency in Bedfordshire and the UK.

As the site covers land within three Local Planning Authorities (LPAs), separate planning applications have been made to Bedford Borough Council, Milton Keynes Council, and Central Bedfordshire Council for their consideration. The reference nos. are listed below:

Comments on each planning application can be made at the relevant LPA’s website.

We welcome any feedback you wish to provide so please do get in touch.

Section 37 application

In order to connect the proposed Snakes Meadow Solar Farm to the electricity grid, Renewable Connections Developments Limited has submitted an application to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (‘BEIS’) under Section 37 of the Electricity Act 1989 for a 15 metre section of 132kV overhead line (‘OHL’). The proposed OHL would be located adjacent to West End Road near Kempston West End, and if granted, would connect the Snakes Meadow Solar Farm’s point of connection compound to an existing high voltage pylon tower located nearby.

The s.37 OHL application documents, including detailed drawings and Environmental Impact Assessment (‘EIA’) screening information, can be accessed via the below links:

Document links

Any representations in respect of this application should be made in writing before 30 June 2022 and addressed to The Secretary of State, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, c/o Francesco Marolda, Energy Infrastructure Planning, Level 3, Victoria 1, 1 Victoria Street, London SW1H 0ET or email: s37-wayleaves@beis.gov.uk and should state the grounds on which they are made. Any such representations will be copied to the relevant planning authority (Bedford Borough Council) and Renewable Connections Developments Limited, unless the person making them requests in writing that they should not be so copied. If there is such a request then the relevant planning authority and Renewable Connections Developments Limited will only be informed that an objection has been made, but no details will be forwarded to them.

Quick Facts

CO2 Icon

862,000 tonnes of CO2 displaced rom fossil fuel sources over the project’s lifetime

Megawatt Icon

17,000 megawatt hours of clean renewable energy generated every year

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Equivalent annual energy needs of 15,000 homes

45 hectares of land subject to biodiversity improvements

maisemore solar map

Location

The application site predominantly comprises a collection of agricultural fields to the south of Newport Pagnell Road (A422) near the settlement of Stagsden, extending east along Newport Pagnell Road, Hay Lane, and West Road until it reaches and encompasses an existing overhead line pylon to the south of West End Road.

The site itself is irregular in shape and is situated within undesignated countryside agricultural land, with a total site area of approximately 80 hectares (ha). The land here is gently sloping and south-facing, with a height difference of around 30m across the site. The site is subdivided into roughly four medium-to-large scale field enclosures defined by farm tracks, a small brook with native trees to the south, and hedgerows and tree belts at Snakes Meadow to the west. A row of pylons and overhead transmission lines pass from north-to-south through the centre of the application site.

Ecological and biodiversity management areas

The proposed solar farm development will include measures to enhance the biodiversity of the local landscape, including:

  • Retention and protection of existing habitats of local value
  • Safeguarding of protected and notable species during construction and operation
  • Provision of habitats and landscape enhancements via new planting
  • Hedgerow creation and infilling
  • Planting of meadow and butterfly grassland
  • Provision of additional nesting and refuge and overwintering habitats, including habitat piles / hibernacula and bat and bird boxes as appropriate

Public Rights of Way (PRoWs)

There are several PRoWs which traverse the application site, including Public Footpaths 13 and CRA54A, which are proposed to be retained during the construction and operation of the proposed solar farm. An appropriate buffer zone of planting will be provided along the PRoW routes in order to reduce the potential visual effects of the proposals.

Our Proposals

The proposed development is for the construction, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning of a ground-mounted solar farm with a maximum export capacity of 45.5MW. The solar farm will be comprised of photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays together with a substation compound, inverters, transformers, cable trenches, Point of Connection (POC) infrastructure, internal access tracks, security fencing, and CCTV cameras.

The PV solar arrays will be mounted in a fixed position in uniform rows running from east to west in order to maximise solar gain from the south. The maximum top height of the panels will be 3m above ground, and the minimum height of the lowest part of the arrays will be 0.5m, and the panels will slope 15 degrees from horizontal.

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.

Once installed, Snakes Meadow Solar Farm will be operational for a period of up to 40 years from energisation.  After this time, the solar farm will be fully decommissioned and the land will be restored to its pre-existing agricultural use, with the benefit of improved soil health and biodiversity as the land will have been allowed to fallow.

The power generated from the solar farm will be exported to the local distribution network via an underground cable run connecting to a new overhead pylon located approximately 300m away from the application site off Kempston West End.

The construction of the proposed solar farm is expected to take no more than 24 weeks.

Project documents

The full set of documents submitted as part of the planning application can be found on each of the LPA’s online planning registers using the reference numbers. given above

Project timeline

Stage 1

Site selection
Spring 2020

Stage 2

Preliminary Surveys
Autumn 2020

Stage 3

Pre-application
Winter 2020

Stage 4

Community Consultation
Spring 2021

Stage 5

Submission
Autumn 2021

Stage 6

Construction
Spring 2024

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.

Bedford Borough Council declared a climate change emergency in March 2019 and has pledged to hit net zero carbon emissions by 2030 and has adopted a carbon reduction strategy, which encourage investment in solar projects.

Milton Keynes Council has pledged to work towards carbon neutrality by 2030 and to become carbon negative by 2050 and has adopted a sustainability strategy outlining their long-term vision for achieving these aims.

Central Bedfordshire Council has pledged to become carbon neutral by 2040 and has adopted a roadmap for achieving this goal, which includes the need to facilitate investment in solar farms.

Solar is one of the cleanest, cheapest forms of energy available. Snakes Meadow Solar Farm will make a meaningful contribution to Bedfordshire’s energy needs by providing enough renewable energy to power up to 15,000 homes. Over the 40-year lifespan of the project, the proposed solar farm would displace an estimated 862,000 tonnes of CO2 from fossil fuel sources. This is around the same reduction in carbon emissions as taking over 13,800 petrol and diesel cars off UK roads for a year, every year.

FAQ’s

Why this location?

This site has been identified following extensive site selection process across Bedfordshire, which took into account environmental designations, local electricity network access and capacity, the physical characteristics of the site, as well as the need for 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 24 weeks 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 have been included in the Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) submitted with the solar farm planning application. There will be infrequent maintenance visits to the site during operation, expected to be no more than once per month.

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?

Following a maximum 40-year generation period, the proposed development will enter into a decommissioning stage where all equipment will be removed from the site and recycled, and all the land will be restored to its current state.

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 setting up a community benefit fund to be made available to fund local projects. We would welcome any suggestions as to what local projects might be able to benefit from this fund, so please do get in touch using the contact details at the bottom of this page.

How will the deployment of new solar farms affect energy bills?

Solar power is the most affordable form of energy in the UK. This is due to the cost of solar panels declining as much as 60% since 2010, with their efficiency having greatly improved over the same period. It is also important to note that sunlight (the primary input) is free which means that the price of solar power is much less volatile than fossil fuels that must be imported at cost. Therefore, more solar farms mean cheaper energy bills.

Does land used for solar farms reduce the UK’s food security?

The independent National Food Strategy review has shown that solar farms do not in any way present a risk to the UK’s food security as there is already more than enough agricultural land to meet the UK’s needs. Indeed, solar farms provide a valuable income stream for farmers to continue food production on other parts of their land, whilst solar farms themselves can still be used for sheep grazing.

Get in touch

snakesmeadowsolarfarm@renewableconnections.co.uk

01234 481341

Snakes Meadow Solar Farm
c/o Renewable Connections Developments Limited
3rd Floor
141-145 Curtain Road
London
EC2A 3BX

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