15:00 Wednesday 12 February 2014

Solar farm plans possible for land in Marchington

Written byJENNY MOODY

A SOLAR farm could be built in a village near Uttoxeter after the land owner asked if an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) would be needed.

Sun and Soil Limited, along with Steve Langridge, the owner of the land at Dove View, in Moisty Lane, Marchington, has formally requested a screening opinion to East Staffordshire Borough Council to determine whether an impact assessment is needed to accompany a planning application for a proposed solar farm in the village.

A screening opinion is an assessment of the potential positive or negative impact that a proposed project may have on the environment.

The site has been selected as ideal by the developer for a solar farm as it is not within or adjacent to any sensitive sites or designated areas and generally has good existing screening and low visibility.

The land is also classified as ‘poorer’ under the Agricultural Land Classification of England and it is in a close proximity to a ‘feasible grid connection’.

The application states: “Furthermore, the site will be designed to encourage biodiversity by keeping the existing hedgerows, planting new hedgerows and encouraging wild flowers of native and diverse species to grow within the site, thereby providing the surrounding wildlife a habitat refuge.”

The opinion states that the solar farm would occupy three fields which are currently being used as grassland and for arable crops if given the go-ahead by the council’s planning committee.

The site is located to the west of Marchington and 3.2km south east of Uttoxeter, with a number of farms surrounding the site.

It is surrounded by predominantly grassland fields which are used for grazing and some areas of arable crops.

Moisty Lane runs along the northern boundary of the site with hedgerow and sporadic trees along the north, east and west boundaries and intermittent hedgerow along the northern boundary.

The land owner has stated that he intends to submit a planning application to the borough council for the development of a Photovoltaic (PV) solar farm which will be capable of generating approximately 4.3 MW of electricity.

The document states: “This would be sufficient to provide the power needs of more than 1,173 average UK households and save in the region of 2,030 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year that would otherwise be generated through the use of traditional fossil fuels.”

The proposed project will involve the installation of PV panels which will be arranged in rows covering a total site area of around 10Ha.

The panels will be mounted on a steel framework supporting structure which will be driven directly into the ground.

This will mean there will be no need for any concrete foundations.

The structure will follow the terrain and will not rise above 2.3 metres above the ground level and any point.

The proposed project will export electricity to the National grid.

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