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.
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.