About

Location and Access

The proposed renewable energy scheme is located west of Andover and adjacent to the A303. Access to the site may be gained from the east, near Bush Farm, or west, via Lains Farm. In reflection of the narrowness of the eastern road, it is proposed that construction traffic will approach from the west and enter the site through Lains Farm. This route was used for the existing solar installation at Lains Farm. Once construction is completed (estimated to take a maximum of 18 weeks) there will be minimal traffic during the operational period as the equipment needs only to be checked roughly once or twice a month.

Appearance and Operation

Solar energy is gathered by Photovoltaic (PV) cells. which are mounted on metal stands which are pushed firmly into the ground. The panels are arranged to face south to gather maximum irradiation from the sun. The energy gathered is converted to the form of electricity used by the National Grid and connected to the Grid to provide a renewable source of energy.


It is not necessary for there to be full sunlight: energy can still be provided on a cloudy day. However. the supply is inevitably limited due to daylight hours. There is therefore a difference between the supply of solar electricity and consumer demand from the Grid. Battery storage is used to help meet this difference between supply and demand. Batteries store surplus energy and release it when required to the Grid at times of peak demand.

Green Energy and Climate Change

There is widespread awareness of the need to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and an encouragement to increase the generation and use of renewable energy The UK Government has a legal obligation in relation to generating renewable energy and to reach net zero emissions by 2050. and Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council have both declared climate emergencies (in 2019).

The proposed solar park and battery store will make an important contribution. The proposed installed capacity will be 22.5MWp and to provide some context, that will be enough electricity to power 5,467 homes annually and save 4,635 tonnes of CO2.

Landscape and Wildlife

The Lains Farm site is a mix of arable and improved grassland fields with surrounding hedgerows. These hedgerows will be retained as part of the proposed development. and a stand-off from hedgerow habitat will be integrated into the construction proposals In addition. there will be new planting to "gap up" the areas where hedgerows are patchy, and new woodland planting.

Within the solar PV area. a new grassland will be created and maintained to increase floristic diversity This will help to increase pollen and nectar availability with consequent benefits for bees and other insects.

The grassland between and around the panels can continue in agricultural use, and sheep grazing helps to maintain the ecological value of the grass sward.

The ecological measures included in the scheme have been preliminary calculated to provide a Biodiversity Net Gain score which exceeds the level expected in the Environment Bill currently going through Parliament.

Heritage

As part of the design process. the site and surroundings have been subject to specialist assessment by heritage experts. and their findings have been taken into account in the proposals In particular. the layout of solar panels avoids an area which was identified as potentially being part of a ring ditch system. although the value of this is diminished because part is likely to have been removed by the construction of the A303, which is immediately north of the site.

Planning - Next Steps

A planning application is being prepared for submission to the local planning authority, Test Valley Borough Council. This will include many technical assessments to assist the authority in considering the application As part of the process. the authority will invite comments by a range of consultees. There is no precise time as yet for the submission although it is likely to be later this year.

Visit our GET INVOLVED page to have your say as part of our pre-application consultation.