FAQs

Questions raised during consultation

General FAQs

  • COVID19: What are your staff and contractors doing?

    Anybody carrying out preparatory work on this project is following the latest Government guidelines. Most of our team are currently working from home and those who can’t will be following social distancing guidelines.

    We have been advised that ecologists and environmental professionals have received dispensation from DEFRA to continue with outdoor work, including ecological surveying and supervision, as long as they follow Public Health England guidelines. Work that does not require travel, such as desk-based surveys and report writing, will be completed from home where possible.

  • How does a solar energy farm work?

    Solar energy farms are ground mounted solar installations that range in size from 50 kilowatts to thousands of kilowatts. The solar panels are mounted onto a framing system which is installed on the ground. The solar panels use PV technology to convert daylight into electricity. It’s the same technology that powers your calculator.

    We plan to include batteries at Stargoose Solar, which allows excess solar electricity to be stored on site and used when the grid needs more power, helping the National Grid better manage their network.

  • Do solar panels work when it is cloudy?

    Solar panels produce energy from daylight rather than sunlight, so they continue to produce electricity even when the weather is overcast. With the addition of batteries on site, any electricity produced during the day can be stored and used at any time whenever it’s needed; day or night.

  • How big are the solar panels?

    The solar panels are each around 1m by 2.5m in size and are typically up to 3m above the ground depending on terrain and tilted between 10 to 25 degrees.

  • Do solar farms affect aircraft?

    There have been no reports of impacts on aircraft.

  • I have heard there is glare from the solar panels?

    There can be some glint and glare from the panels, but we design and locate them so this is negligible, taking into account the location of properties and the local landscape. Studies show that reflection from vegetation and bare soil can be more significant than from similar areas of solar.

  • Is a solar energy farm noisy?

    There is some noise generated on site during the construction stage but this is only for a short duration. Once built, there is low level noise from the cabins housing the associated equipment. From the edge of the site, any noise produced will be less than other background noise such as passing traffic, wind and other local sounds.

  • What is the process of building a solar energy farm?

    There are a number of phases. We start with a site feasibility assessment which has already identified the Stargoose Solar site as a suitable place for a solar farm. We then move into a consultation and surveying phase where we gather information and opinions on the proposal. Among other things, we assess the environmental, visual and ecological impact of the site and consult with the local community, the council and relevant public authorities. This information finalises the design and associated reports that are submitted with a planning application. The Local Planning Authority will then follow their processes to determine the application, which concludes with permission either being granted or declined.

    If permission is granted, there is then a period of roughly three to six months where the construction contracts are finalised before work on the site is ready to start.

  • How long will it take to build?

    Construction of a solar energy farm typically takes three to eight months. In the first six weeks most of the deliveries take place. After the parts have been delivered to site there are fewer vehicle movements as the site is built and then made operational.

  • How many HGV lorry deliveries will there be to build Stargoose Solar Energy Farm?

    During the construction period, traffic will be routed away from the local villages of Boxworth, Lolworth and Dry Drayton. There will be around 700 deliveries on normal sized trucks to get all components associated with the solar energy farm on site – including all the solar panels themselves, fixings and cables.

  • How big is Stargoose Solar Energy Farm?

    The proposed site is two fields on the Childerley Farming Estate totalling 65 hectares. Around one-third of the site will be dedicated for habitat, biodiversity and landscape improvements. The solar energy farm will have a maximum output capacity of 60GWh, which could power up to 18,000 homes every year. This is the average size of most solar farm projects being developed in the UK today.

  • Does the solar project need government subsidies?

    The project does not rely on any government subsidies. It secures its revenue by trading its electricity either on the market or under contract to suppliers, and by securing contracts to provide electricity management services to the grid.

  • Batteries on site: Storing energy and keeping the site safe

    We will be using a battery energy storage system as part of the Stargoose solar project which will:

    • enable excess solar electricity to be stored when demand is low;
    • supply extra power when the demand for electricity is high; and
    • help the National Grid maintain the network’s 50Hz frequency.

    Lithium batteries come in a variety of forms. We plan to use Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries which are a different form of battery to those used in personal electronic devices and are easier to manage.

    The batteries will be handled under their own safety management plan to ensure that all relevant standards and best practice guidance are covered. This is will be relevant at the time of the system’s design and throughout their operational life, with respect to how they are operated and maintained.

  • Will you be removing trees and hedgerows?

    Removing such features goes against the environmental improvements we hope to achieve at the site. We intend to work with the existing land and leave gaps for trees, ponds and hedgerows that are already there with buffers where advised by our ecology partners. We will be undertaking a detailed tree survey to identify the condition of the trees on site and where a tree is not considered to be in a good or safe condition it may be removed.

  • Is agricultural land taken out of use?

    The agricultural land can be reverted back to agricultural use within a short space of time at the end of the lease period, as the scheme can be completely cleared away restoring the site to its former condition. Sheep farming can continue alongside the solar farm, with the sheep grazing around the panels. Often farmers and landowners welcome the income from the lease and the ability to allow the land to rest.

  • Do solar farms cause any changes to the land?

    No widespread levelling of the ground in advance of the installation work is required. There is practically no loss of soil coverage (less than 0.1 per cent) as a result of the solar farm as enough sunlight and rain can get through/between the panels to maintain plant life. Correct and diligent management during the operational period can improve the soil quality through a significant increase in topsoil content, which can become depleted as a result of regular intensive cultivation.

  • What does a solar farm look like in the landscape?

    Placing solar farms on flat south-facing land or gentle slopes minimises its appearance in the landscape. Existing natural screening will be left in place and new screening will be planted to reduce the impact of the development on the immediate surrounding landscape and views from the public footpath. A landscape and visual impact assessment will accompany the planning application and will set out in detail the landscape impacts and how they can be minimised.

  • Is the site in a flood plain?

    The site is within Flood Zone 1, as such there is no risk of flooding.

  • How long does a solar farm last?

    Many solar farm installations around the world are now over 30 years old and still going strong. The Stargoose Solar Energy Farm, if it gets the go-ahead, will have planning permission for 35 years. At the end of its working life, the land can be restored at low financial and environmental costs – in contrast to fossil fuel or nuclear power stations.

  • What happens afterwards?

    The modules and associated plant and equipment will be removed and the site will be returned to its agricultural use.

  • What benefit is it to us?

    There are a number of benefits to having a solar energy farm.

    Where possible, we try to offer local jobs and supply contracts when we get to the construction, operation and maintenance phase of running our sites. Local suppliers can register their interest in the ‘Have your say’ section of this website.

    The project will also contribute business rates to the local council and as part of our ongoing commitment to communities, we offer community grants to support local project and causes.

    More broadly we are providing a renewable energy source for future generations, maintaining supply and adding to the UK’ energy security.

    Once built, solar energy farms also provide great opportunities for micro-habitats. The variety of dry and wet and shaded and sunny areas, if properly planted and managed, can support a wide variety of wildlife.

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