Ecological Consultants - solar panel farm
Delta-Simons was appointed by Lark Energy to undertake an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey at Wymeswold. Plans for the development outlined the construction for the largest solar farm in the UK.
Delta-Simons was appointed by Lark Energy to undertake an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey at Wymeswold near Loughborough, Leicestershire. The Site, a former WW2 airfield, was being used for a mixture of agriculture and leisure, including a driving experience operator and kite club. The plans for the development outlined the construction for the largest solar farm in the UK, consisting of 125,000 solar panels, carefully designed so that none of the current site users would be affected by the installation once it was operational.
Outline / Scope of Works
Our Ecology team completed an Extended Phase 1 Habitat Survey and Bat Roost Potential (BRP) Survey at the Site. During the BRP Survey, undertaken to determine the suitability of the buildings on Site to support bats, a bat roost was discovered which posed a significant issue to the smooth and timely delivery of the development. Due to imminent government cuts in the Renewable Obligation Scheme for renewable electricity generation, it was necessary for the development to be delivered within a short time frame. The discovery of bats on the Site immediately before the planning application deadline was a significant risk to the commercial viability of the project.
The quick turnover of the development limited further bat surveys being undertaken as a requirement of a European Protected Species Licence to enable the building supporting the roost to be lawfully demolished.
Outcome / Client Benefits
We recommended that the building was retained following the proposed development and that a buffer zone be incorporated around the building to protect the bat roost and bat foraging and commuting corridors. Our team also recommended the installation of bat boxes in woodland adjacent to the Site to increase roosting opportunities for bats in the local area – enabling the development to progress forward rather than being held up by seasonal constraints.
Following completion of the works, Charnwood Borough Council granted full planning permission for the Solar Farm and the development began on site shortly afterwards, on course for successful commissioning. Lark Energy has built a good working relationship with us from working together on various other solar farm sites. This has enabled ecological and biodiversity issues to be accommodated during each site design and build within commercial realities of each development.
"Delta-Simons did a great job during the planning process for Wymeswold. The innovative solutions recommended by Charlotte Sanderson and her team allowed us to protect existing ecology whilst also minimising disruption to a time sensitive development."
Julie Rankin, Operations Director, Lark Energy