Wood Lodge Solar Farm

Why is the scheme needed?

UK Climate Targets

The Climate Change Act commits the UK government by law to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 100% of 1990 levels (net zero) by 2050.

The environmental impact of climate change is also linked to significant damage to the UK economy. However, combined, the net-zero transition (estimated to cost a maximum of 2% of UK GDP) is expected to have a net benefit of around 4% of GDP (LSE 2022). Addressing climate change will protect and benefit the UK economy as well.

HM Government’s Net Zero Strategy: Build back greener (2021) confirms:

“By 2035 the UK will be powered entirely by clean electricity, subject to security of supply.”

“A low-cost, net zero consistent electricity system is most likely to be composed predominantly of wind and solar generation”

“The net zero economy will be underpinned by cheap clean electricity, made in Britain. A clean, reliable power system is the foundation of a productive net zero economy as we electrify other sectors – so we will fully decarbonise our power system by 2035”.

Energy Security – “home grown energy”

The UK’s Energy Security Strategy (2022) focuses on expanding domestic UK energy supply alongside commitments to completely remove Russian oil and coal imports by the end of 2022, and Russian gas “as soon as possible thereafter”.

It identifies the need for five times as much solar PV deployment by 2035.

Ground mounted solar is relatively cheap and very quick to deploy. It can make a significant contribution to the UK meeting its own energy needs.  

Government food policy

The UK Government Food Security Report, published in December 2021, is explicit: “The biggest medium to long term risk to the UK’s domestic production comes from climate change and other environmental pressures like soil degradation, water quality and biodiversity.”

The report quantifies this risk, noting that under a medium emissions scenario, climate change could reduce the proportion of ‘Best and Most Versatile’ agricultural land from a baseline of 38.1% to 11.4% by 2050. This would mean a reduction in the UK’s prime agricultural land of almost three quarters.

The Solar Energy UK Briefing confirms that evidence is already available: for example, the drought of 2022 literally caused the potato crop to shrink. Climate change causes crop failure, and solar farms help address climate change. This means solar farms are helping to defend UK and global food supply.

Why this site?

This application will be supported by a suite of technical reports which will assess the impacts of the development and explain how the scheme can be implemented in a careful and sensitive manner. Indeed, the site is well suited to accommodate the proposed solar farm development as illustrated by the following key points:

  • It is located within viable proximity of a connection to the local electricity network
  • It is available for the proposed duration of the scheme
  • The site is predominantly lower grade agricultural land
  • The site is not subject to any designated Landscape (AONB, Green Belt or National Park)
  • No designated Heritage Assets including listed buildings, registered parklands and Scheduled Monuments would be effected
  • It avoids sensitive ecological designations (SSSI, RAMSAR Sites or Wildlife Reserves)
  • Offers an opportunity to deliver substantial ecological enhancements through a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG)
  • It is located away from built-up areas to avoid any amenity impacts
  • The site is located in flood zone 1 (lowest risk of flooding) where development should be directed
  • It benefits from a suitable access for construction and maintenance purposes without the need for vehicles to travel through local villages
  • The site also sits well within the landscape and the existing hedgerows and new planting allows for the panels to be accommodated with the site without appearing prominently within the wider landscape

Decline of centralised fossil fuel power stations and decarbonise the grid

Seven nuclear power stations have already been decommissioned in recent years and all 14 of the UKs coal fired power stations are set to be closed by 2025 (with only three currently operating). New energy generation is essential and with the escalating climate and ecological crisis, there is an unprecedented need for electricity to be provided urgently through clean renewable generators that don’t emit carbon and can support biodiversity.

An example of the mass decommissioning of fossil fuel power station is Eggborough.