Kronos Solar Park: North Houghton

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Kronos Solar Park:  North Houghton

The aim of this document is to provide a factual summary relating to the proposed development.  Where possible sources have been identified.

Who?

Kronos Solar Projects GmbH.  Head office in Munich Germany with sites in Cornwall, Wales, Isle of Wight.  UK head office is in Truro, Cornwall.  One of the UK’s largest developers of Solar Parks.
Kronos Solar Park:  North Houghton
Source:  http://kronos-solar.de/

What?

  • A photovoltaic park.  Solar panels in the larger area marked in red and an inverter station in the small red square.  See map.
  • Test Valley Planning references:  13/00974/SCOS and 13/00291/SCRS

Source:  Test Valley planning portal

Where?

Total site of 93 hectares.  Solar panels to cover approximately 82 Hectares  .  See Appendix A.

Source:  Test Valley planning portal

What happens there now?

Farming.  The land is Grade 3a. Most arable farming land in the UK is Grade 3 and then divided into Grades 3a or 3b.  Part  (approx 53%) of the land is currently leased to Mrs P White.  It is farmed on her behalf by Mr R Monk.  Mr D Busk is the freeholder.  100+ deer also roam and graze freely.

How long for?

25 years.  On completion of the project (25 years) the land can be returned to agriculture.

Source:  Planning portal

“There is the ‘possiblity’ that during that time it could be used for grazing once the panels are installed.  Solar parks have been able to create rich bio-diversity platforms, as the limited exposure to human-beings throughout the projects 25 years lifespan enables various species to live freely within its domain.  There will be no chemical usage either for the field or solar equipment maintenance.”

Source:  Email from Makan, Kronos

What will it look like?

The site will be fenced for security.  We do not have a specification of height, colour or material.

Kronos Solar Park North Houghton-

Photo Source:  Kronos Website

How is it installed

The solar panel mounting system will be pile-driven roughly 1.4 metres deep.

Concrete foundations are used where it is possible archaeological assets could be underneath.

The modules are laid out West to East with the panels facing due South.

It will take six months to build with approximately 13 lorries a day, each week day, entering the site.

Source:  emails to Makan, Kronos

What Capacity is it?

The 35 MW is the project capacity, with consideration to the irradiation levels of the area.  The inverter station converts DC to AC to connect to the National Grid.

Source:  Email from Makan, Kronos

Will you be able to see the Solar Farm?

Yes.  Parts of the Solar Farm will be visible from the Beeches, a narrow strip to the left hand side of the horizon and a more substantial part to the right.  Probably about a fifth of the total.  It will possibly be seen from Meon Hill Farm and will definitely be seen from the Broughton footpaths.

Source:  TVBC Visual impact report.  See Appendix B.

Will it be noisy?

  • The applicant should include details to demonstrate (by means of noise assessment or otherwise) that the inverters and other ancilliary equipment will not produce noise at levels likely to be disturbing to local residents.
  • The aim should be to demonstrate a noise level that is either no higher than 25dB(A) at night at nearest residential properties or 10dB below background whichever is higher.

Source:  Environment Protection response, TVBC planning portal

Access

Highways”  “Access to the site has been identified  from Broughton Road and not through Houghton. The applicant will be required to enter into a Lorry Routing Agreement to ensure that all vehicles access the site via the A30 and Broughton Road and not through Broughton or Houghton villages.

Between the highway and the site, access should be taken from Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) no. 25 which runs along the western side of the application site. This is the shorter of the two possible routes and allows easier access and egress to the public highway for vehicles approaching from the A30.”

Source:  Planning portal Highways consultation document

Biodiversity

‘The fence will keep deer and other larger animals out of the solar park.  To protect the animals and the panels.  As for Hares and other smaller sized animals, the bottom part of the fencing is left uncovered (roughly 15 cm) and therefore they will be able to enter, as many of these animals also dig through as well.

There are no trees on the site as it is arable land.  We plan to  designate several areas within the area for various bio-diversity schemes. These will contain either meadows for deer and other larger animals by placing the fences further inside the site and creating hedgerows on the outskirts of the fence.

In addition, there is a large number of skylarks and other similar birds and therefore we are looking at certain areas within the site where we would create wildlife, grassland for ground nesting purposes. Unfortunately at this time, I cannot confirm the exact locations and scheme, as we are awaiting further information on the layout, but will surely provide it to you once its completed.

In regards to the field maintenance of the site, this will be decided by the planning department, and therefore we will know of their requirements on a later date.”

Source:  Email to Makan, Kronos

Archaeology

“The proposal lies in an area of high archaeological potential. There are archaeological sites in the vicinity and at least one known significant archaeological site within the holding. Any planning application or EIA should be supported by an archaeological submission (within the EIA or Heritage statement). This should set out the archaeological potential of the site, the potential impact of the development and an appropriate mitigation.

I was pleased to note that the applicant has identified the need for the application to be supported by an archaeological desk based assessment (although I would re iterate this should also include possible next step mitigation of impacts identified). I was also pleased to note that the piling can be replaced by surface concrete pads where an archaeological impact is of concern.”

Source:  HCC Archaeology consultation response.  Planning portal.

A secondary Archaeological Report has been prepared on behalf of Kronos and submitted.  The document is copyright protected therefore we cannot reproduce it here.

 

Offer to the Village or ‘Unilateral Undertaking’

Source:  The Unilateral Undertaking Document:

Schedule 1 – Public Funds 1 Definitions

1.1 “Public Funds” means the proceeds from the Feed-in Tariff Scheme as operated by Ofgem for the electricity produced by the Solar Panels and fed into the grid;

1.2 “Solar Panels” means up to 30 kWp of photovoltaic panels with MCS certificate that the Applicant will deliver to the Council and that will be installed on the Public building or Public Buildings.

1.3 “Public Building” means any of the following:

1.3.1 Buildings where the Parish Council of Houghton is the freehold owner and has the right to install and operate Solar Panels on the roofs; or

1.3.2 Buildings where the Parish Council of Houghton is not the freehold owner but has the right to install and operate Solar Panels on the roofs for a period of at least 25 years.

1.4 “Alternative Funds” means £50,000 as a one-off payment or alternatively an annual payment of £5,000 for 10 years (subject to annual adjustment by inflation, “RPI”).

2 – Notice of Commencement

2.1 No Development shall commence until the Parties shall serve notice on the Council clearly addressed and marked for the attention of the responsible planning officer or Head of Planning and Regeneration for the Council confirming the Commencement Date.

2.2 Within 30 days of the commencement of electricity generation and export from the Development the Parties shall notify the Council in writing of the First Date.

3 The Solar Panels or the Alternative Funds shall be provided and installed (if applicable) by the Parties in accordance with the Nomination served by the Council.

4 Within 12 weeks of receipt of the notification of the Council on the First Date the Public Funds shall be transferred.

5 The Public Funds or the Alternative Funds shall be utilised at the discretion of the Council for the Parish Council of Houghton.”

This is not a Section 106 payment.

“With regard to the question about Section 106 payments, I had already spoken to TVBC about this, albeit, not the case officer as she was not available.  My understanding from my conversation is that 106 payments are negotiated on a case by case basis.  TVBC need have a reason for requesting a payment and be able to justify it.  For example, if any development had an impact whereby the roads needed to be improved then a payment might be requested.  Housing developments very often lead to developers grants for improvements to public open space or playgrounds.  These agreements are legally binding and a land charge.

The e mail from Kronos refers to a ‘unilateral undertaking’ and this is different from a 106 agreement.  It is basically an offer from the developer and, although, the borough council’s lawyers would ensure that it is a legal document and that the developer is likely to pay it, it would not be charge on the land.  It must not be seen as ‘a payment for planning permission’.

Although, as I have said, I did not speak to the case officer, I don’t think TVBC know anything about this offer from Kronos, which is odd considering it is an offer to them and not to the parish council and would not normally be done before a planning application is submitted. “

Source:  Email from Houghton Parish Clerk

Next Steps

  • Test Valley have designated this a ‘Schedule 2’ development due to its size and have therefore requested a full environmental impact statement accompany any full application in the future.
  • Longstock Parish Council have discussed the application and have no objection.

Houghton Solar Park Location

 

Appendix B: Zone of Visual influence Map: Produced by TVBC

Houghton Solar Farm Zone of Visual influence Map: Produced by TVBC