The installation of a solar power station which could provide enough electricity to serve 4,500 homes is getting underwaynear Tring.
Planning permission for the substation at Long Marston’s Folly Farm was granted by Dacorum Borough Council in November, and another application to detail ecological considerations at the site has been submitted with a decision expected in March.
The proposals involve the construction of a solar park capable of generating up to15 megawatts peak (MWp) of electricity along with eight electrical cabinets, which will be painted green to blend in with the environment.
The applicant – one of the UK’s leading solar developers Hive Energy Ltd – says the new park will enable the farmer who owns the site to diversify activities on the land, while maintaining the area as grassland with potential for grazing and flower seeding.
Only 30% of the area of the solar park will be taken up by the panels, with a gap of around seven to eight metres between each row for plants and animals.
After the 25-year lifetime of the solar park, the agricultural land can be restored to its present use.
The biodiversity of the site is hoped to be improved thanks to planning conditions includinghedgerow and tree planting, the creation of a wildflow meadow and installation of badger underpasses.
The proposal is less permanent than most other forms of development, including some other alternative methods of renewable energy production.
A two metre-high fence is also to be constructed around the perimeter of the farm to minimise visual impact on neighbours .
According to the plans, it is hoped local employment opportunities will be created during the solar park’s construction and operational phases.
It would around two and a half years to ‘pay back’ the CO2 created by the solar park, and for the rest of its quarter-century lifespan the park will be ‘carbon positive’.