Wood Lodge Solar Farm

Frequently Asked Questions

Solar farm development is an efficient use of land because it allows for agriculture and energy generation to co-exist. The proposed scheme would support the viability of the wider farming enterprise without altering the status of the land in planning terms. The solar panels are placed on metal frames above ground which allows the land to continue to be used for productive farming.

The use of the site for solar also enables biodiversity enhancements and the achievement of a net gain in bio-diversity. Modern agricultural techniques require that land is cultivated to maximise production and this often reduces the amount of wildlife and native planting across the land. In comparison solar farm development is supplemented by species rich planting and wildflower meadows. This delivers restorative functions to the land, which would be returned to full agricultural use upon decommissioning.

The specialised and efficient way of constructing solar farms has been developed and enhanced as the industry has matured. Solar farms are designed and constructed to minimise the local impacts during construction.

The solar panels are mounted on specially designed metal frames. These are installed by specialised mechanical equipment which is guided by survey data and satellites. This results in a system where the posts are hydraulically pushed into the ground with no foundations required.

The efficient way of construction reduces the number of delivery vehicles required and delivers a shorter construction period, reducing the impact of construction. Once the frames have been constructed the panels themselves arrive to site by road and are stacked in sheets, reducing the number of vehicles entering and leaving the site.

The construction period from start to finish is typically 6 months.

The panels need minimal maintenance and their performance is monitored remotely. The site will is secured with stock proof fencing (not palisade) and CCTV. This is monitored and maintained periodically for the lifetime of the project.

The typical length of a project of this scale of 50 years after which the project would be fully decommissioned and the site restored to its full agricultural use.

 Yes, all the materials used will be recyclable as practically possible.  

A solar panel is made of a frame (typically aluminium), glass, crystalline, silicon solar cells, and copper wiring, all of which can be extracted, separated, and recycled or reused. The remaining one percent is an encapsulant material which bonds the layers of a panel together.

This public consultation is being undertaken so that the views of local people can be taken into account when refining the plans prior to the submission of the planning application. This will allow for the design to be amended accordingly in response to specific local circumstances.

The public consultation will also involve an in person event and a channel for communication with the developer.

A full planning application will be submitted to North Northamptonshire Council later in the summer 2023. A full statutory consultation would then proceed, involving all relevant technical consultees and interested public bodies. A decision would be anticipated in Autumn 2023.

The site is relatively flat and is not constrained by environmental designations. The scheme will therefore not cause any unacceptable visual harm and will be largely screened by hedges. It is also poorer quality farmland. Due to the amount of land needed, the scheme cannot fit in an urban area and requires a countryside location. Importantly there is capacity on the local electricity grid and a viable point of connection nearby. This site is therefore very well suited to the proposed development.

We have selected land which is largely Grade 3B and is therefore poorer agricultural land with a lower yield than best and most versatile land. The scheme also represents farm diversification and will provide a stable ground rental income stream that will support the wider farming enterprise and help it to remain viable in challenging economic times. The site could also be grazed by sheep and as such will still produce an agricultural yield. The scheme is temporary and will eventually be removed completely from the site allowing the site to return to open farmland with a positive legacy of biodiversity enhancements.

We must balance the use of land between food production and energy production. Solar farms take up just 0.06% of UK land, compared with 1.41% for golf courses and parks. Even government plans to significantly scale up solar in line with its net-zero target are expected to bring this up to just 0.3% of the UK land area for solar. This is the equivalent to around 0.5% of the land currently used for farming – and roughly half of the space taken up by golf courses. In comparison, according to National Food Strategy, agricultural land covers 70% of the UK. Around 70,000km2 is pasture used for grazing cows and sheep, and around 67,000km2 is for growing cereals and legumes.

Data illustrating current and future solar farm coverage in the UK

Data illustrating golf course coverage of UK compared to solar farms

The Government strongly supports the deployment of renewable energy. National Planning Policy (NPPF) states that the “planning system should support the transition to a low carbon future in a changing climate, taking full account of flood risk and coastal change. It should help to: shape places in ways that contribute to radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, minimise vulnerability and improve resilience; encourage the reuse of existing resources, including the conversion of existing buildings; and support renewable and low carbon energy and associated infrastructure.”

Paragraph 154 explains that “when determining planning applications for renewable and low carbon development, local planning authorities should not require applicants to demonstrate the overall need for renewable or low carbon energy, and recognise that even small-scale projects provide a valuable contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions.”

To combat the effects of climate change, to meet the UK’s legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure home grown energy without reliance on volatile foreign energy markets.

We have identified this site as a suitable location for renewable energy development which can contribute positively to the UK’s transition from imported fossil fuels to home grown de-carbonised green energy and help to reverse the effects of climate change and protect future generations.

A full review of the brownfield land register has been undertaken and there are no sites which are suitable, available or viable to use.

  • There are no sites close enough to the point of connection to the grid. When the distance between the site and the point of connection is too great, the development becomes unviable.
  • Brownfield land is suitable for alternative uses including housing and employment development which generate far greater land values. Such values would make a solar farm unviable so solar developers simply cannot compete with housing and employment development. Moreover, brownfield land is nearly always allocated for employment or housing uses (or has specific policy support for such uses) so a renewable energy scheme would usually be contrary to planning policy on brownfield land.
  • A solar farm has a relatively large footprint and there are no local brownfield sites large enough to physically accommodate the scheme.

No. All local rights of way will be protected, kept open and enhanced with wild flower planting and green buffers.