Maleys Solar - PACE Community Portal
Introduction

Pathfinder Clean Energy (PACE) and the Food Enterprise Park have brought forward a proposal for Maleys Solar Farm, with battery energy storage, on land east of Barnham Broom Road, NR9 5DE.

As you may know, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently issued stark warnings of increasingly extreme heatwaves, droughts and flooding, and a key temperature limit being broken in just over a decade if urgent action isn’t taken. The Government has committed to a target of “net zero carbon emissions” and a transition away from fossil fuels for energy supply in little more than a decade.

At the same time, the Food Enterprise Park (FEP) is an increasingly important centre for local employment. It needs to secure affordable sources of zero carbon energy to serve its innovative vertical farm and other businesses.

The Maleys Solar Farm will be key to addressing these challenges and will serve the future energy needs of the FEP. It will have four main objectives:

  • Provide affordable power to existing and future occupiers of the FEP.
  • Support the UK’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 and the interim target of a 78% reduction within 14 years.
  • Enable the continuation of agriculture during operation.
  • Significantly increase the biodiversity of the site.
  • This website contains details of our proposals, but in summary:

    • Maleys Solar Farm will generate enough renewable energy to power the equivalent of over 9,500 homes a year.
    • It will connect to the FEP and a new substation via an underground cable.
    • Solar farms take up a very small proportion of the land they occupy, leaving huge scope for biodiversity enhancements. In fact, an assessment has demonstrated that proposed biodiversity measures will increase habitats by over 82%, by creating new meadows, and increase hedgerows by around 6%.
    • No agricultural land will be lost and sheep can graze under and around the solar panels during operation.
    • Once operational, there will be almost no traffic. Construction traffic will not pass through Colton, Easton, Honingham or Barnham Broom.
    • Solar panels are safe with no known health risks.
    • The site is well screened from nearby homes.

    Several sites were considered in the area. This site was selected as having few environmental constraints, including ecology, landscape and heritage.

    The local topography, mature trees, hedges and woodland, and design of the solar farm means that it will be well screened from Colton. New hedges will be planted to fill any gaps.

    The size of the site presents significant opportunities for biodiversity improvements, including creating new habitats for birds and insects. It will not be necessary to remove any trees or hedges and the land beneath the panels will be available for grazing livestock as well as biodiversity improvements.

    As a result, PACE believes the proposed development would be in keeping with the character of the area and would make a vital contribution to addressing the climate emergency and serving the growth of the FEP.

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PACE & FEP: Who we are

Pathfinder Clean Energy (PACE) brings together experience from the development, construction and operation of over 1GW of clean energy projects.

PACE is headquartered in the UK and is committed to a sustainable future. We are working to create low-carbon energy to the benefit of the environment and the community.

Our team includes ecologists, landscape and heritage specialists who help us to create environmentally friendly solar farms.

Honingham Thorpe Farms (HTF) is a dynamic family run farming based business that prides itself on being innovative and proactive in addressing the challenges of modern agriculture. The farm's activities range from the growing of food and traditional agriculture to accommodate the growing FEP.

Food Enterprise Park Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of HTF and was set up with the specific aim of managing the development of 40 hectares of allocated land to “support food production, processing and agriculture through the co-location of commercial enterprises”.

You can find out more about the Food Enterprise Park at www.foodenterprisepark.com

We would welcome suggestions from you as to how we can improve our project.

Solar farms: Why are they needed

Solar farms are becoming a common feature in the British landscape. They use photovoltaic (PV) panels to generate energy from daylight and distribute it to homes and businesses.

They are necessary because coal power stations are closing and climate change commitments require big increases in renewable energy.

Batteries store excess power and make it available during periods of high demand. They are housed in small containers within the site.

Solar farms produce home grown energy which contributes to the UK becoming energy independent and reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels. This is particularly important as demand for electricity for electric vehicles and heating grows.

Securing a supply of affordable power for occupiers of the FEP is key to ensuring that energy supply does not become a barrier to the park’s growth, and the jobs that come with it. A separate application has been submitted for a new substation, while this proposal for a solar farm will ensure the FEP and local area is supplied by renewable energy.

No harmful greenhouse gas emissions are produced and the development will generate very little noise and will not be heard outside of the site.

At the end of its 40 year operational life, the development will be removed and the site completely restored.

What it will look like

The proposed solar farm is located to the west of the village of Colton.

The PV arrays will be ground mounted in south facing rows while the batteries will be housed in containers. Neither will not exceed 3m in height.

Existing hedges and trees, and the local topography, means that while glimpses of the development will be possible from some homes, footpaths and roads, it will be generally well contained within the site.

Below is a selection of computer generated images prepared by PACE to illustrate what the solar farm will look like. Use the slider below to see a recent photograph before (left) and expected view after development (right).

Viewpoint Location 1
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Original Image
Viewpoint Location 2
Photomontage Image
Original Image
Viewpoint Location 3
Photomontage Image
Original Image
Use the sliders above to see pictures taken recently and how we expect them to look after the development is constructed and landscaping mitigation added.
Access & Connection

Once operational, solar farms generate almost no traffic. The construction period will last approximately 30 weeks.

The proposal is for construction traffic to approach the site from the A47 and Mattishall Road, accessing the site from the northern end of Barnham Broom Road so that construction traffic does not pass through Easton or Colton.

The development will include an underground connection to the Food Enterprise Park and existing overhead 132kV line that passes to the east of the Park.

During construction, there may be some disturbance on some days. This won’t last long and our aim is to keep it to a minimum. Prior to development we will agree restrictions on working hours.

A management plan will be agreed with the Council in advance, which will include details of how you can contact us in the event of a problem.

The solar farm will be connected to the Food Enterprise Park and electricity grid via an underground cable. Over 98% of the cable route will be buried in agricultural land, so temporary impacts to the highway will be minimal. There will not be any cable laid on Church Lane.

The cable route will run from the Solar Farm on land east of Barnham Broom Road, briefly along Highhouse Farm Lane and across agricultural fields to the new substation on land off Church Lane.

The benefits

Click the image to enlarge, or download a high-res version here.

Maleys Solar Farm will have the capacity to export 30 megawatts of clean, renewable energy which will power the equivalent of over 9,500 households each year.

It will help support the immediate energy needs of businesses on the FEP and ensure its future growth can be served by zero carbon energy.

Solar power has become one of the most cost effective energy sources available. Therefore, it will be built without public subsidies.

Solar and battery farms take up a very small proportion of the land they occupy, leaving huge scope for biodiversity. Research has shown they improve the diversity and abundance of broad leaved plants, grasses, butterflies, bumblebees and birds, including those with conservation status. Details of the enhancements we will provide can be found in the graphic, and we would welcome your comments on this.

Agricultural land will not be lost. Small livestock, such as sheep, can graze under and around the solar panels during operation, providing the multiple benefits of agriculture, biodiversity improvements and energy generation. The reduction in intensive agriculture and chemical fertilisers should naturally improve the quality of the soils, leaving them in a better condition at the end of the life of the solar farm.

The rapid construction time provides faster access to renewable power and lowers the nation’s carbon footprint, without creating harmful emissions or noise outside of the solar farm.

Timescales

Engaging with the community is important to us and we welcome your feedback on our proposals, along with any suggestions you might have to improve them. You can do this by filling out our survey here.

Following a review of the initial feedback, we have evolved our project plans and have now submitted a planning application to South Norfolk District Council.

It takes the council approximately 13 weeks for the Council to decide the application. If approved, further design and management details usually need to be agreed upon before we can start building, such as construction management and ecological management plans.

PACE will then construct the solar farm. Most deliveries are completed in the first six weeks of a construction period that usually lasts around 30 weeks.

More info & downloads

Below you can find links to some more detailed plans as they become available. You can view all of our submission documents via the council’s planning portal.

You can view our planning application in full on the council’s website. The planning reference for this project is 2022/0509. The planning application reference for the substation is 2021/2230).

We have commissioned a comprehensive set of surveys to help determine the site area and layout, so that impacts on residents can be minimised, and to identify opportunities for improving the proposals.

The surveys include:

Comment or contact us

We welcome you to take our short survey here. Alternatively you can email us at communityrelations@maleyssolar.co.uk or give us a call on 0800 3777 348 and we can arrange for someone to call you back.

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