Welcome to the information page for our proposed 24MW Middlepiece Lane solar project.
This page includes details about our current plans for the site, and ways to share your feedback.
The land identified for the solar project can be viewed on what3words’ interactive map here ///cards.tidy.drape.
Project key facts
- The solar project could have a capacity of up to 24MW (megawatts), generating enough energy to power the equivalent of up to 6,331 homes, co-located with a battery storage facility to maximise the efficiency of the project.
- Estimates show a potential saving of around 5,608 tonnes of CO2 every year, equivalent to driving 72,849,360 miles in a car.
- The project is fully reversible and after 40 years the rested land will benefit from increased biodiversity and an improved ecosystem.
- The soil will be enhanced as it will be far less intensively farmed during this time.
- As part of the planning process, Conrad Energy is required to demonstrate that there will be a biodiversity gain on site.
What happens next?
It’s important to us that the local community are informed of our current proposals for the site and can give us their feedback.
We will be holding a public consultation event on Tuesday 21 November at St Michael’s Church, Burnett from 15:00 to 19:00. At this event you can talk to the project team, see our proposals in more detail, and give us your feedback.
Planning decision expected
The transition to a clean energy system is necessary to avoid the catastrophic effects of climate change to the environment, wildlife and humans. The UK’s climate change ambitions are amongst the highest in Europe and require us as a nation to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. More renewable energy generation is needed to meet these targets. Middlepiece Lane Solar Farm will offer an environmentally friendly, low cost and safe way of delivering clean power to the equivalent of more than 6,331 homes.
The solar farm is proposed for lower grade agricultural land and will be sensitively sited amongst woodland and hedgerow features. The solar farm can connect to the existing grid capacity to supply the local network and customers with clean power for local consumption, helping Bath and North East Somerset Council on its journey to becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
Conrad Energy will be submitting a full planning application for Middlepiece Lane Solar Farm to Bath and North East Somerset Council, which is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2030. This solar project will aid the Local Authority in achieving its targets.
Middlepiece Lane Solar Farm will connect into the overhead 33kVA cables that run through the eastern edge of the site. This will form a tee off connection and drop off the poles into a ground mounted substation.
Solar power is now one of the most cost-effective sources of electricity generation in the UK. The Government has decided that subsidies should no longer play any role in solar development, which is good news for the consumer. This means that Middlepiece Lane Solar Farm will not receive any government funding.
Solar farms not only preserve and protect what is there today, but also offer opportunities to enhance the space by allowing the land to rest without regular ploughing, fertilising and spraying with pesticides and herbicides.
It’s important to Conrad Energy that the area is improved for nature, and ecological enhancements will form an integral part of the development plan.
At Middlepiece Lane Solar Farm this may be done by a selection of the following, depending on site specifics:
- Ensuring a minimum separation distance of 2.5m between the panels to allow for biodiversity improvements, such as wildflower planting.
- Planting and maintaining new native hedgerow species such as hawthorn, hazel, blackthorn and field maple.
Planting additional trees with species such as field maple, crab apple and wild cherry.
- Converting the entire site from arable to pasture, creating a wildflower meadow habitat where bees and pollinator species can thrive.
- This will benefit a number of species groups such as farmland birds, amphibians, woodland and woodland edge bat species, brown hare, badgers and small mammals.
- Conrad Energy respects local communities and designs projects sensitively, listening to local feedback. We would like to hear from the local community about their ideas for environmental enhancements.
Actually we believe the nature of the additional planting, scrubland, hedgerows and especially the permanent pasture and wildflower grasses will increase the ability of the land to hold rain water and reduce the speed of the water leaving the land.
After speaking with the landowner and local residents it has becoming increasingly clear that there is an issue with run off from the farmland and the valley, which captures on the main road through the village and then runs through the village. The drainage for this seems to be inadequate although there has been recent works undertaken to improve the situation.
Building on these conversation we believe the Solar Farm can reduce the run off rates from the farm land due to the increase all year round vegetation and uncompacted soils. We will also look at increasing ways on holding the water on the site before it enters the drainage system, whether this is swales, ponds, ditches or other methods to hold the water above the village. We are committed to working with the landowner to find the best way to attenuate the water on the site.
As part of the scoping report, Conrad Energy carried out an Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) Survey on the site, including soil sampling.
Solar farms allow land to rest without regular ploughing, fertilising and spraying with pesticides and herbicides. As well as benefitting from the rest from chemicals, we are required to demonstrate as part of the planning process that there will be a biodiversity gain on the site. Conrad Energy encourages the grazing of sheep, as well the siting of bee boxes and bird boxes on its solar farms, meaning that the potential for dual use of the land for electricity development and agriculture will be guaranteed.
The entire Middlepiece Lane Solar Farm site will be converted from arable to grassland and wildflower meadow habitat, offering a beneficial habitat for small mammals, farmland birds and woodland bats, as well as bees and pollinators.
About Conrad Energy
Conrad Energy is the UK’s largest flexible power producer with over 900MW of generation across 70 plants. Our installations provide the backup needed for renewables to grow, while our development pipeline includes a growing list of storage and solar assets.
We are focused on building a better world for generations to come and our solutions support the UK’s energy transition to net zero.
Conrad Energy have a very experienced solar development team with many years and megawatts of installed capacity.
Our lead Project Development Manager on this project is George Hall, who has been in the renewable industry for 15 years. He has developed over 400 projects, including the UK largest Solar Car Port at Bentley Motors in Crewe, our 45MW Solar Farm in Herefordshire that is presently in construction, the 15.23MWp Camp Lane Solar Farm that will power the Leonardo Helicopters site in Yeovil, and a major project for J P Morgan Chase recently. But more importantly I have known the Stratton family for a while now as I installed the Solar Array on the farm 10 years ago.
Project overview and timeline
We expect to submit a planning application for the project in Winter 2023, on completion of a pre-application consultation period between November and December 2023. This seeks feedback from local residents before a design is finalised and we submit a planning application for a solar farm to Bath and North East Somerset Council.
Yes. While solar development was previously focused on the south of England, improvements in solar technology mean that an increasing amount of the UK is suitable, including Somerset.
The solar farm will be fenced using deer fencing and wooden posts with a height of approximately 2.0m.
Solar farms do not typically generate pollution or significant noise outside of the temporary construction period. Any elements of the development which produce noise (e.g. transformers, substation, etc) will be located away from residential properties to prevent any impact on amenity. A full noise assessment has been carried out as part of the planning application.
Because more than 95% of the land remains as grass, rainwater runoff from the site will not increase and the solar arrays will not displace any floodwater. We will engage with both the local Flood and Drainage Authority and the Environment Agency throughout the planning process to aid in the design of the scheme and mitigation measures. A full Flood Risk Assessment has been commissioned and will form part of any planning application we submit.
Mitigation and screening will be built into our planning application. Following a landscape and visual survey and assessment, a planting plan will be produced. This will include new native hedgerow and tree planting to reinforce the existing green network and provide visual screening. We welcome feedback on this.
We are developing the solar farm with the aim of delivering a significant net gain in biodiversity, and to improve the soil quality in the long term. Our ecologist is in the process of setting out a detailed habitat and biodiversity improvement plan to improve both of these important elements.
Conrad Energy have a very experienced solar development team with many years and megawatts of installed capacity.
Extensive ecological assessments of the site are being undertaken. In order to provide increased foraging opportunities for birds all year round, fruit-bearing native hedges and trees will be planted, and fallow strips will be added along field boundaries for winter foraging. Sensitive construction methods will be used to minimise disturbance to the bird population.
Traffic levels and traffic safety are important considerations for a project such as this. As part of the planning proposal, a Construction Traffic Management Plan will be submitted which identifies the route to site and sets out the rules to ensure works can be conducted safely. For example, designated times of day to minimise congestion at busy periods, avoiding problem areas/times.
A solar farm can take approximately three to four months to construct. Most of the deliveries take place during the ﬁrst six weeks. After the parts have been delivered to site, there are fewer vehicle movements as the site is built in situ and then made operational. Conrad Energy will be in communication with local neighbours, so you know what to expect and when.
Once the solar farm is completed, it requires very little maintenance as it will be remotely monitored by CCTV. It may be visited 10 – 20 times a year by a works van or a 4×4.
A Transport Statement will be submitted with each application which will set out construction routes and traffic management measures.
The operational life of solar panels is approximately 40 years. After this time the site is decommissioned in line with the list of planning conditions attached to the decision notice. It takes approximately 4 months and is undertaken by the project owner.
Consultation and engagement
You can register for updates on the project by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will keep you updated as we progress the plans. We follow all GDPR guidelines in relation to personal data and you can opt out at any time.
Please ask a question or request a call and one of the team will respond as soon as possible. You can email us on email@example.com
We encourage everyone who visits this site to provide feedback and comment.
For those who prefer to write to us, address correspondence to ‘Freepost Conrad Energy Ltd’ (no stamp or further address information required) and it will make it to our team who will respond to you.
A further opportunity to provide comments and feedback directly to the Bath and North East Somerset Council is available, after a planning application is submitted. Register your interest with us to be kept informed when our application is submitted.
Tell us what you think
We’d like to hear your feedback to help us shape our plans. If you have any questions please get in touch.
Post: Middlepiece Lane c/o Conrad Energy, Suites D&E Windrush Court, Blacklands Way, Abingdon, OX14 1SY