Former airfield to become solar farm

Airfield to become new solar farm

8 September 2015

KETTERING – Peter Brett Associates has helped to secure planning permission for a one-time military site to become one of the country’s largest solar parks. Northfield UK Solar’s development at RAF Desborough airfield in Northamptonshire will generate up to 49.9 MW of electricity (0.1MW beneath the threshold for a nationally significant infrastructure project). The application was approved by Kettering Borough Council on 26 August.

The solar park will be located on 112 hectares of previously developed land on and adjacent to the former airfield, and will be connected to the electricity network via a 33kV underground connection, which has also been consented.

PBA provided a full suite of technical services to support the client’s application, including planning and engagement, EIA coordination, landscape and visual impact assessment and design, ecology, transport, noise, flood risk and utilities. Each of these inputs was integrated into the design of the development in order to overcome a range of challenges, including mitigation of construction impacts and long-term ecological management at the site.

Despite the size of the development and the requirement for a 1.8km connection to the electrical connection, the planning application was approved with little objection and had the full support of the local parish council, a major achievement for such a large renewables project. Vital to this success was effective public and stakeholder engagement to understand the key issues at the site and then sensitive design to resolve each of the issues identified.

"This has been a great example of our teams working together to resolve technical issues and achieve buy-in from the local community," said PBA Project Manager Stefan Boss. "It has been an amazing achievement that has taken us less than a year from instruction to receiving a decision notice on such a major scheme, and being able to do so without local objection."

The successful resolution of all potential issues was noted by the planning committee during their unanimous determination. Fin Reid, Project Development Associate at Northfield UK Solar, said: “PBA have been fantastic right through from pre-app to decision day. They have helped manage the project and provided top-quality work, and we have full confidence in their advice with regards to large-scale solar planning.”