Construction on the Coombeshead Farm solar site has been progressing successfully over the last few weeks, with the majority of the mounting structures already erected and panels now being installed. We still expect the site to be connected to the local network before the end of February and to have the site fully instated and tidied before the end of April.
There have been a few issues with respect to deliveries, with some disruption to the local road network being flagged by residents. These have been treated very seriously and in conjunction with South Hams District Planning, Devon County Council and The Highways Agency we have revised the signage locations and traffic management plan for the site to avoid further issues. The final major deliveries are expected this week and so any further issue will be unlikely after this.
We will give a further final update once the site has been successfully connected.
Coombeshead Solar Farm has now been taken on by Belltown Power, who will take it through construction and into operation over the coming months.
The planned programme will see initial access track and preparation works happening over the next two weeks, with the majority of installation and construction taking place from mid-January to mid-February. Panels are expected to be mounted in early February and connection to the electricity network and first generation is targeted by the end of February. All finalisation and tidy-up works are expected to be finished by April.
We will update you again when construction is in full swing and then hope to report the good news of connection in a couple of months’ time.
South Hams District Council today granted Coombeshead Solar Farm planning permission. The meeting held at 11am in Follaton House, Totnes, was well attended by councillors, members of the public and the applicant to see the outcome of the application.
We will be updating the blog shortly with anticipated timescales for the project. If you have any questions in the mean time please feel free to Contact Us.
Subsequent to the consultation process, please find below an overview of the final changes which have been made to the application, along with a map depicting where panels have been removed from since the original conception of the project.
Green areas show where solar panels have been removed by AEE
The blue numbers in the drawing identify areas where the original layout has been modified. The list below identies the reasons for these changes.
- This area was visible from the living areas of two residential properties
- As with area 1, but also visible from the road running from Coombeshead Cross to Rolster Bridge.
- This area was initially omitted as solar panels installed in the field would have been visible from the garden of two residential properties. Archaeological investigation subsequently found a feature of interest such that the boundary was set even further to the east. It was interesting to discover that both landcape and archaeological sensitivities helped identify an appropriate location for the boundary, which will now be formed by replacing a historic hedgerow;
- The field to the north east is visible from adjoining private land (to the west).
- This steeply sloping area is not only less suitable in terms of potential stability, but also has good potential as a habitat for bats (although not currently important bat habitat);
- At the public exhibition held at Diptford Village Hall a clear message was given that residents travelling around their locaility did not want to be confronted with another highly visible solar farm. Area 6 would have been highly visible from Coombeshead Cross and other points on the Ridge Road. This area was, therefore, removed; and
- Similarly the west side of the southern area is partly visible, particularly in the winter. During the process of assessing landscape and visual impact the decision was taken to pull the boundary away from the Ridge Road to reduce the likelihood that the solar farm would be seen. Subsequent ecological survey identified that planting a woodland at this location would not only provide further screening, but would be highly beneficial to biodiversity. Accordingly, this area is included within the planning applcation, but will be planted with trees rather than hosting solar panels.
Further changes during consultation stage:
- The steeper section of fields within the northern section have been removed at the request of Natural England to protect semi-improved grassland, thereby enhancing the environmental potential of the site.
- A 10m corridor between hedgerow and fence was implemented around the whole site, in response to Natural England’s request for an increased buffer zone for bats.
AEE is not taking the full potential capacity and has made reductions of approximately 30% to the total capacity.
The planning committee date has been set for 14th May 2014 at 2pm