Community benefit fund

Bluestone Energy are committed to supporting the communities who live close to our renewable energy projects through our community benefit fund. The money can be used for investment in local projects, recreational spaces and climate related programmes.

As this is a new project to the area, we would like to get your thoughts on ways to spend this money in the local community. This could range from a new local project through to long-term funding for a charity or local community group. We are open to a wide and diverse range of ideas.

We will use ideas submitted, in addition to feedback we have received from Parish Councils and local community groups, to help determine how the money is spent.

If the project is granted consent, we will share details on how our community benefit fund is spent, including how we considered your feedback.

You can submit any ideas through our project email address (info@staveleysolar.co.uk)


FAQs

About the Project

Solar farms are where photovoltaic (PV) panels, referred to as solar panels, are used to harvest the sun’s power on a utility scale. The PV panels convert natural sunlight into electricity.

Staveley Solar Farm would comprise the construction and operation (including maintenance) of ground mounted PV arrays and supporting infrastructure. The supporting infrastructure would include:

  • Substations, comprising electrical equipment such as inverters and transformers
  • A ‘direct wire’ allowing Wing Water Treatment Works to utilise 10-15% of the electricity generated and grid connection allowing Anglian Water to utilise remaining 75-80%
  • Access tracks for maintenance
  • Perimeter (stock proof ‘deer’) fencing and CCTV
  • Landscape planting to screen views, most likely through infilling and planting of hedgerows and trees
  • Planting within the PV array area and around the perimeter of the site to help enhance the landscape and target Biodiversity Net Gain

Rutland County Council have set ambitious climate change targets to decarbonise the region and ensure a secure, reliable and clean source of energy for homes and businesses in the County. Staveley Solar Farm would play an important role in providing local energy whilst also contributing to the UK’s wider net zero targets.

Anglian Water has targets to achieve 45 per cent renewable energy generation by 2025 and become a net zero carbon organisation by 2030.

It takes a huge amount of electricity to pump water through the network to treatment works, and to treat water to a quality suitable to supply to customers. Therefore, finding renewable energy alternatives to the supply from National Grid is essential to achieve the carbon reduction goals. Reducing Anglian Water’s reliance on the National Grid also gives more control over operational costs.

The proposed Staveley Solar Farm would be directly connected to Anglian Water’s Wing Water Treatments Works.

The project would have a maximum power output of 40MW of renewable energy – the equivalent of powering 19,600 homes a year and cutting 14,700 tonnes of carbon emissions a year.

The site would take up approximately 80 hectares of a wider 1,565 hectares agricultural landholding.

The site is located on land to the south of Pilton, in Rutland.

At this stage we have provided indicative areas for development, including where the solar panels, underground cabling, and other project infrastructure would be located.

We have also identified indicative ‘non-developable’ areas, which are areas that will be considered for biodiversity and mitigation (such as tree planting and landscaping) but would not be used to host solar panels or associated infrastructure.

Our plans for Staveley Solar Farm are still at an early stage and subject to planning permission by Rutland County Council. Should approval be granted, construction could start early 2024. We anticipate that it would take nine to twelve months to build the project, with the site potentially being fully operational and generating electricity from autumn 2024.

The site is considered a ‘temporary’ development, meaning it would be decommissioned after a set period without any permanent land use change. The timeline for this decommissioning would be determined and published at a later date, but typically run up to forty years.

The site was previously a quarry, used for mining iron ore, run by Staveley, Coal and Iron Co Ltd.

As such it has low environmental and agricultural value, meaning it can only produce a low yield for arable crops which is increasingly uneconomical for the current farm to sustain.

An Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) has confirmed that the majority of the site is not Best and Most Versatile (BMV) agricultural land. Of the 80.3ha site, most of the land (59ha) is grade 3b and 4:

  • 51.9ha grade 4
  • 7.1ha grade 3b
  • 17.7ha grade 3a
  • 3.6ha grade 2

Land that is grade 3b or grade 4 is typically classified as ‘lower grade’ agricultural land. By using the former quarry site for solar the existing farm would be able to diversify its operation, supporting continued agricultural output on better quality agricultural land elsewhere on the site.

Our proposals for the solar farm have been designed using a landscape-led approach, taking advantage of natural screening, contours in the land, and existing hedgerows and woodland to ensure it has as minimal a visual impact on the surrounding area. As solar panels are low-profile compared to other forms of infrastructure they can be screened appropriately. Our screening measures will also help mitigate visual impacts through new planting of hedgerows and trees as part of the Landscape and Ecological Management Plan; this is developed as part of the planning process. For further information please see our submitted Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment and accompanying Detailed Landscape Proposal plans.

Our ecology team is currently carrying out habitat and species surveys which will allow us to better identify any potential biodiversity impacts of the scheme. These surveys include, but are not limited to, birds, bats, reptiles, amphibians, invertebrates, water vole and otter.

Ground-mounted solar projects provide major environmental benefits. In addition to providing renewable, low-carbon energy – which is good for the planet – they actually also improve biodiversity locally by creating new habitats for wildlife and letting plant life grow around the panels over time, compared to harvesting crops yearly.

Solar farms have been proven to be able to deliver considerably higher levels of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) compared to other types of development and our proposals at Staveley Solar Farm will be no different.

We are committed to supporting local projects, creating recreational spaces and increasing biodiversity as part of this project. We will be consulting with local stakeholders, such as Rutland County Council and Parish Councils, to help determine the scope and focus for our community benefit initiatives and members of the public will also have the opportunity to provide feedback during our public consultation on what they would like to see.

These FAQs have been drafted for the Staveley Solar Farm project website in response to key themes/feedback from our in-person consultation event and webinars on w/c 23rd January 2023.

Anglian Water

We have identified several measures to ensure that members of the local community benefit from our work.

Firstly, we have allocated £75,000 to issue through a community benefit fund, which could include investment in local projects, recreational spaces, biodiversity and in addressing social issues such as fuel poverty. The feedback we receive during consultation and engagement with Rutland County Council during our application submission will help determine the focus or scope of the fund.

It should be noted that a Community Benefit Fund is a voluntary commitment by Bluestone Energy and its partners that sits outside the formal requirements of the planning process. Whilst we will have discussions with Rutland County Council about ways in which it could be spent, it will not go to them as the determining authority.

The project would also help provide a reliable source of energy through the amount we export to the national grid, which will help reduce local energy bills over time.

We would also be working to improve biodiversity via active management for the duration of the scheme controlled by condition, in addition to new mitigation planting and landscaping especially in locations such as Morcott Road, where there are gaps in the hedgerow along the boundary. Further details can be found in the ‘Environment and Biodiversity’ questions in the FAQs.

Site location/identification

There are a number of factors that have informed the site location and its selection.

The factor of principle importance relating to the siting of solar farm development is proximity to a suitable point of connection to the grid which offers capacity to accommodate the development at a viable cost, which can also be connected to the point of connection via a technically, environmentally and commercially viable connection route.

As a general rule, the further the point of connection from the development site, the less feasible achieving connection is due to the additional costs.  Long cable routes also increase the potential impact of disturbance on the local community and increase the transmission losses and thus decrease efficiency of the overall scheme in generating renewable electricity.

The site has been selected due to its proximity to Wing Water Treatment Works and the Oakham 33kV Substation (the Points of Connection ‘PoC’).

Western Power Distribution has confirmed that the Oakham 33kV Substation has sufficient capacity to accommodate the development.

The second phase is to select a site within a suitable distance of the PoC which meets a number of deliverability and environmental site selection criteria and crucially, is available to deliver a viable solar farm scheme.

As a result of the site selection deployed, no alternative sites, including brownfield sites, have been identified which could deliver the scale of development required.

Use of brownfield sites for utility scale solar farm development is typically not cost effective due to the land values of these site and competing pressure to be used for alternative permanent uses such as housing or commercial uses.  The typical proximity of brownfield sites to existing built areas typically represents an efficient use of land which generates multiplier benefits as a result of the relationship with existing uses and infrastructure.

Furthermore, if brownfield sites were to be alternatively prioritised for solar PV development this would give rise to enhanced pressure to find land elsewhere within the district for permanent types of development such as housing, which would give rise to greater potential for encroachment on the open countryside and impacts which would be significantly greater than temporary solar PV development.  Subsequently, the use of brownfield sites for utility scale solar farm development does typically represent the most efficient or optimum reuse of this land for a temporary period of time with alternative permanent forms of use offering greater social, economic and environmental value.

The Staveley Solar Farm site presents a number of favourable factors regarding selection as a suitable site for solar PV development, as summarized below:

  • Proximity to a suitable PoC at both the 33kV substation at Oakham, and also Wing Water Treatment works which will benefit from a direct wire connection.
  • Gently sloping south facing site
  • Proximity to suitable access from the highways network
  • History of use for quarrying and landfill
  • The majority of the site has been assessed to comprise predominantly of land which is not ‘Best and Most Versatile Agricultural Land’. 59ha of the 80ha site area is lower quality agricultural land. 51.9 ha has been assessed to comprise Grade 4 ‘Poor Quality Land’ and 7.1ha Grade 3b ‘Moderate Quality’ land.
  • Lack of Public Rights of Way intersecting the site or in close proximity to the site
  • The site has been as assessed by Avian Ecology Limited to confirm that the site and surroundings are not subject to any ecological sensitivity which would preclude the development for solar farm development.
  • The site is not situated in or proximate to any areas designated for landscape. The existing conditions at the site and surroundings provide an opportunity to benefit from existing woodland screening and to provide landscape mitigation which ties in with the surrounding landscape character.
  • The use of the site for solar farm development would enable ongoing pastoral agricultural use across the area under panel and the concurrent use for solar farm development would support the agricultural diversification and resilience of a larger agricultural enterprise operated by the landowner, extending to a further 1485ha.
  • The site is situated in Flood Risk 1 (low) flood risk.
  • No designated heritage assets have been identified at the site.

Keeping the solar farm infrastructure safe form theft is an important consideration. The site will have a range of security measures such as 2.4 meter high post and mesh fencing and infrared CCTV throughout the construction and operation of the site

There is no evidence that solar farm development increases the risk of theft in the wider area.

The size of the project has been determined through a range of factors including site feasibility, grid connection including proximity and cost along with Anglian Water’s operational requirements. The energy generated by the scheme on the proposed site will also play an important role in contributing to Rutland’s local net zero and decarbonisation.

The site is not situated within any national or local landscape designations.

Bluestone instructed input from a Chartered Landscape Architect at an early stage in the process to inform the evolution of the site layout which has included desk top research, site visits, and the production of a ‘Screened Zone of Theoretical Visibility’ to inform the evolution of the site layout to date with further feedback sought at the pre-application engagement phase.

The initial landscape work was informed by desk study and field assessment to assess the landscape and visual sensitivities at the site and surrounding area to inform the layout and mitigation strategy.  This initial assessment work has been conducted in consultation with the heritage consultant to ensure that any heritage sensitivity has also been taken into account at an early stage to inform the evolution of the layout.

The site benefits from a degree of screening as existing provided by woodland and hedgerow in the area.  Flatter land has been selected in preference to some of the more visible southerly slopes at the site to mitigate against the impact on views from the south.

The layout to date has been designed to respond to the wider context and minimize the effect on any sensitive landscape features and visual receptors.

Following the input received at the public consultation phase the layout is in the process of being reviewed again in response to the comments received.

The landscape mitigation proposed at this includes a mixture of tree belt reinforcement planting, gap planting of existing hedgerow, new double staggered hedgerow with intermittent hedgerow trees, and new hedgerow field boundaries to enclose proposed areas of panels.

Viewpoint photography has been taken at the locations shown in the viewpoint plan. The viewpoint photography was taken in early December to capture the ‘worst case’ views when the trees are not in leaf.

Photomontages have been prepared to show the proposed development in the view from viewpoint locations 4, 5, 6 and 7 identified on each photomontage figure.

At each photomontage viewpoint, a photomontage has been prepared showing the proposed development, including landscape proposals, one year after completion (at Year 1) and fifteen years after completion (at Year 15), to show the effect of proposed planting filtering and screening the proposed development overtime.

The photomontage views have been prepared in accordance with the latest technical guidance provided by the Landscape Institute, referring to Technical Guidance Note 06/19 ‘Visual Representation of Development Proposals’.

Viewpoint 4 was prepared in response in response to comments received by Bluestone at the meeting with Morcott parish council.

Viewpoint 4 is situarted on the bridleway west of North Luffenham Road where there is a gap in hedgerow, at a field gate on the southern side of this bridleway. Viewpoint 5 is on the west side of North Luffenham Road, near a group of residential properties on the east side of this road. Viewpoints 6 and 7 are on the public right of way in the southern context of the site, running between Morcott and Wing Road in the east and the A47 Morcott Road in the southwest.

Views from local roads and Public Rights of Way towards the site (and proposed development) have been assessed as part of the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment being prepared for the proposed development.

Viewpoints 5, 6 and 7 have been identified as appropriate to illustrate how the proposed development could look in close public views from a short section of North Luffenham Road in the east (viewpoint 5); in limited private views westwards from local residential properties off North Luffenham Road (viewpoint 5); and in open far reaching views from points on the public right of way in the south looking northwards across the valley towards the site (viewpoints 6 and 7).

Viewpoint 4 also shows an open view from the bridleway north of the site (west of North Luffenham Road) looking southwards towards the eastern part of the site. It is important to note that much of the route of the bridleway is enclosed as existing and therefore the viewpoint included is representative of the ‘worst case’ view from this Public Right of Way.

Landscape proposals shown in the photomontage views include retention of existing boundary hedgerow and trees; ‘gapping up’ of sparse and open sections of site hedgerow to enhance their screening value; allowing hedgerow to grow to at least 3m high to assist in screening proposed solar panels; planting of new hedgerow and trees along a former field boundary east west through the centre of the site (east of Morcott Road); planting of new hedgerow trees to maximise screening and in keeping with tree cover in the site’s context; and new tree belt reinforcement planting along the northern and eastern boundaries of the eastern part of the site to maximise screening of the proposed solar farm in views from the bridleway to the north (Viewpoint 4), and in views from the road and residential properties to the east (Viewpoint 5), and to enhance connectivity with existing woodland and trees in the immediate environs.

We have included a set of images showing how the site will look from these viewpoints during the 1st and 15th year of  operation with our proposed mitigation measures in place. You can view these in the ‘About the project’ tab of our project website – https://www.staveleysolarfarm.co.uk/

There will be 2.4m high deer fencing (post & mesh) surrounding the site. At the bottom of the fence would be a 10cm gap to allow passage for small animals.

The proposed location for the site is based on an indicative area of development that may change in line with feedback we receive during consultation. As such, we are unable to start hedgerow planting until the final location is determined and our application is approved by Rutland County Council as the local planning authority.

Also, it needs to be considered that the planting season for trees and hedges runs from November to March.

Cable routing

Under our proposals, the proposed cable route will run from the western side of the Application Site parallel to Wing Road and the A6003 then to Oakham Substation, with a private wire connection and smaller Substation facilitated directly to Anglian Water Wing Water Treatment Works site. The planning application also includes the submission of a Construction Traffic Method Statement which considers the impact of the cable route and propose suitable mitigation.

As raised above the planning application includes the submission of a Construction Traffic Method Statement which considers the impact of the cable route and propose suitable transport mitigation.

Environment/biodiversity

We have undertaken extensive environmental survey works to determine and plan appropriate mitigation measures for the environmental and biodiversity impact of the project.

Further information can be found in our Ecological Assessment Report, which also includes the Biodiversity Enhancement and Management Plan. As well as other accompanying technical reports such as but not limited to the Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment; Flood Risk Assessment and Surface Water Drainage Strategy; Heritage Statement; Arboriculture Impact Assessment; and Phase I Geo-Environmental Assessment.

Ecological survey work has been instructed at this site to be undertaken by professional ecologists, provided by Avian Ecology Ltd.

The first step in the preparation of this report is to undertake an ‘Extended Habitat Survey’ prepared in accordance with the methodology detailed in ‘UK Habitat Classification Use Manual (V1.1) (UKHab, 2020) and which is further extended to provide information on the presence or likely presence of protected and notable species via site visit(s) which involves desk-based research and undertaking a site visit.

Great Crested Newt eDNA survey work and associated reporting has been undertaken at the site and in the surrounding area. The findings of the survey work undertaken has concluded that Great Crested Newt are absent from the site.

Ecological data from the Leicestershire and Rutland Environment Records Centre has also been purchased to inform this study.

The County Ecologist was contacted after the completion of the Extensive Habitat Survey to enquire whether any further survey work at the site was required to inform the planning application for the development proposal.

Leicestershire County Council confirmed that no further survey work was required at the site.

The findings of the Extended Habitat Survey will be incorporated within the ‘Ecological Assessment Report’ which will be submitted as part of the planning application. This report will provide an evaluation of the nature conservation value of the site, implications of development and outline the measures proposed to mitigate and enhance the impact of the proposal.

This report will be prepared in accordance with the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) Guidelines for Preliminary Ecological Appraisal and Guidelines for Ecological Impact Assessment in the UK and Ireland (CIEEM, 2018) and completed by suitably qualified ecologists.

The amount of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) that the proposal will give rise too will also be quantified as part of the planning application submission. This will be quantified utilising the DEFRA Biodiversity Metric V3.1. This can be provided as an appendix to the Ecological Assessment Report and provides a quantifiable approach to the delivery of BNG.

A Biodiversity Enhancement and Management Plan will also be prepared and appended to the Ecological Assessment Report. This will inform and guide the biodiversity enhancements at the site.

The proposed solar farm would include new mitigation planting and landscaping where possible, especially along Morcott Road where there are gaps in the hedgerows along the boundary.

The long field margins, hedgerows and intermittent boundary trees would be retained and safeguarded. There are important rock piles present along the south-eastern boundary of the parcel of land to the west of Morcott Road which would also be protected and not impacted by the solar panels.

New planting would support a diverse range of critical invertebrate species and encourage them to colonise the margins of the site.

We are also proposing dedicated biodiversity enhancement area which will not be under panel which will be managed enhance wildlife and biodiversity.

Solar farm development is temporary and reversible.

The duration of the operational phase and decommissioning and restoration of the site will be controlled via planning condition.

The development will not give rise to any permanent change of use at the site.

The use of the land during the operational phase will enable the existing agricultural activity of sheep grazing ewes to continue at the site.

The BRE ‘National Solar Centre Guidance for Solar Developments’ [1]describes that solar farms present excellent opportunity to increase biodiversity.  The panels are mounted on piles and cause minimal disturbance to the ground, typically disturbing less than 5% of the site area.

Typically, 95% of the field utilized for solar farm development is still accessible for plant growth and wildlife enhancement.

The amount of ‘Biodiversity Net Gain’ delivered by the project will be quantified and using the DEFRA the DEFRA Biodiversity Metric V3.1.

The planning application will include a Biodiversity and Enhancement Management Plan which will show how the site will deliver increased biodiversity.

[1] https://www.bre.co.uk/filelibrary/nsc/Documents%20Library/NSC%20Publications/National-Solar-Centre—Biodiversity-Guidance-for-Solar-Developments–2014-.pdf

An Ecological Assessment Report has been submitted as part of the planning application which has considered the impact of the development on the local bird population. Habitats within the Site comprising arable land and modified grassland, do not provide suitable habitats for the qualifying features of the nearby statutory designated sites. The small size of fields within the Site (formed by hedgerows/trees along field boundaries) make the Site unattractive to waterbirds, due to reduced sightlines. The loss of arable land and modified grassland, which is abundant in the wider area, is considered unlikely to have an adverse effect on local non-breeding bird populations of any species. No potential for likely significant effect on Internationally, or nationally protected sites, is considered to occur as a result of the Proposed Development.

Community Benefit

We have identified several measures to ensure that members of the local community benefit from our work.

Firstly, we are allocating money through a community benefit fund, which could include investment in local projects, recreational spaces, biodiversity and in addressing social issues such as fuel poverty. The feedback we receive during our ongoing engagement will help determine the focus or scope of the fund.

It should be noted that a Community Benefit Fund is a voluntary commitment by the Applicant that sits outside the formal requirements of the planning process.

Next steps

Following application submission, members of the public have the opportunity to submit their comments on our proposals via Rutland County Council’s website – HERE. The outcome of the planning application will be determined following the consultation period and will either be decided as a delegated decision or at a meeting of the Planning and Licensing Committee. We will be sharing further information about this on our project website when details are confirmed.

If you would like to comment on the Staveley Solar Farm planning application, please visit Rutland County Council’s website planning portal, where you will be able to sign up to make a comment – Simple Search (rutland.gov.uk)

You can access our submission documents on our application page on Rutland County Council’s website. This includes:

  • Planning application forms
  • Planning Statement
    This report has been prepared to describe the Proposed Development in relation to the Application Site and setting, and to appraise the Proposed Development against relevant legislative and planning policy considerations, as well as any other relevant material considerations.
  • Design and Access Statement
    This Statement demonstrates that the Applicant has fully considered the design and access issues as part of the comprehensive preparation of the scheme prior to submission of the planning application.
  • Statement of Community Involvement
    A statutory document which sets out how Bluestone Energy have engaged with the public and affected communities on how we have engaged on the application.
  • Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment
    The planning application is supported by a full LVIA prepared by a Chartered Landscape Architect in accordance with best practice documents and guidance, which are listed in full within the LVIA methodology. This includes the Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (3rd edition) (Landscape institute and Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (2013).  The findings of the LVIA have informed the landscape mitigation strategy for the solar farm.
  • Landscape and Ecological Management Plan
    This document has been prepared to ensure the delivery and ongoing management of the solar farm landscape proposals, to provide related ecological and landscape and visual benefits. Detailed landscape proposals have been produced, setting out the existing and proposed areas of planting within the Site.
  • Construction Traffic Management Plan
    A Transport engineer has visited the site, undertaken traffic survey works, and liaised with the Highways Authority to inform the design of suitable means of access to the site by the vehicles required to access during the construction/decommissioning phase.The CTMP provides the detail of the access to the site, the construction traffic route, breakdown of traffic movements, the need for any temporary off-site mitigation including traffic management, and the process for agreeing a condition survey at a later date if ultimately required.  Swept path assessments are included as part of the CTMP.  Detail of any off-site mitigation and management measures required are provided within this report.
  • Construction Traffic Method Statement
    A CTMS has been prepared to address the highways implications of the cable route proposed between the site and the Points of Connecting at Wing Water Treatment Works and the substation at Oakham.
  • Agricultural Land Classification Report
    This report assesses the Agricultural Land Classification (ALC) grading of 80.3Ha, of agricultural land approximately 1 mile east of Wing in Rutland.
  • Agricultural Considerations Report
    This report has been provided in response to Officer comments in the pre-application consultation (November 2022) and provides information and commentary on the land quality; the viability and implications of removing land of Grade 2 and 3a from the proposals; and the use of the land in the long term, including the last five years.
  • Ecological Assessment Report
    A report which provides baseline information and an assessment of potential ecological effects of the Proposed Development.
  • Biodiversity Enhancement and Management Plan
    The BEMP sets out habitat protection and enhancement measures as well as details ecological management practices to be adopted with the aim of developing and maintaining wildlife habitats to provide a net gain for local biodiversity.
  • Biodiversity Metric Calculations
    In order to assess the measurable biodiversity impacts associated with the Proposed Development, Defra’s Statutory Biodiversity Metric Calculation Tool was utilised in order to provide evidence of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). The Metric is a biodiversity accounting tool used to quantify biodiversity losses and gains using habitats as a proxy for overall biodiversity. It is recognised as an industry standard and has been developed through full and widespread consultation with stakeholders across all relevant sectors. At the time of writing, BNG is not yet mandatory in England; BNG will become mandatory on the 12th of February.
  • Report to Inform a Habitats Regulations Assessment
    This report has been prepared to assist Rutland County Council (RCC) as the Competent Authority in the undertaking of a Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA).
  • Great Crested Newt Species Report
    This report has been prepared by Tyler Grange Group Ltd on behalf of Bluestone Energy. It sets out the findings of ecological surveys in relation to great crested newt (GCN) Triturus cristatus undertaken at parcels of land within Rutland for the development of ‘Staveley Solar Farm’.
  • Flood Risk Assessment and Surface Water Drainage Strategy
    The site is situated in Zone 1 for flood risk (i.e. having a less than 1 in 1000 annual probability of river or sea flooding (<0.1%) in any year. Despite this low risk a Flood Risk Assessment and Surface Water Drainage Strategy has been prepared due to the area of the proposal exceeding 1ha to ensure that the flood risk is fully understood in relation to site conditions and to demonstrate that the development would not give rise to any increased flood risk elsewhere.
  • Heritage Statement
    This Assessment provides information with regards to the significance of the historic environment to fulfil the requirement given in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework.
  • Arboricultural Impact Assessment
    This report summaries the tree survey undertaken relevant to a planning application at the site and provides written advice on how they inform feasibility and design options. The instruction also required an assessment of the potential impact (the Arboricultural Impact Assessment) of the proposed development on the site’s arboricultural resource to be undertaken.
  • Solar Photovoltaic Glint and Glare Study
    This report has been prepared to assess the possible effects of glint and glare from a solar photovoltaic (PV) development located on land to the south of Pilton village, Luffenham Lane, Pilton, Rutland. This assessment pertains to the possible impact upon surrounding residential amenity, road safety and aviation activity associated with Shacklewell Lodge Farm Airfield and RAF Wittering.
  • Noise Assessment
    This Assessment has been prepared to undertake an operational noise assessment for the proposed Staveley Solar Farm
  • Phase I Geo-Environmental Assessment
    This Assessment was prepared to determine potential contamination risks and associated potential environmental liabilities relating to the sites’ proposed use as a solar farm in order to satisfy relevant planning requirements. In addition, anticipated foundation types and any significant geotechnical constraints are considered.
  • Application Plans
    These accompanying plans provide detail of the scheme and equipment detailing proposed.

We are expecting Rutland County Council to make a decision on our application by early summer 2024. We will share further information once this is confirmed.

We anticipate that it would take approximately twelve months to build the project, with the site potentially being fully operational and generating electricity from Autumn .

The site is considered a ‘temporary’ development, meaning it would be decommissioned after 40 years from the date that electricity is first exported to the grid.

Any community benefit proposals can be sent to our project email address, info@staveleysolar.co.uk

Planning

An EIA Screening Opinion was submitted to Rutland County Council in November 2022. EIA Screening is the process by which it is determined whether or not a scheme is an EIA Development as per the requirements of the Town and Country Planning (Environmental Impact Assessment) Regulations 2017 and consequently if it needs to be accompanied with an Environmental Statement.

Rutland County Council have determined that the development is not EIA development for the purposes of the regulations  This decision is not just about considering the size of a development but the types of environmental impacts there may be. The detail of the EIA Screening Opinion Request and Opinion received can be viewed online by using the Rutland County Council planning applications search facility and searching for the reference 2022/1351/SCR.

Notwithstanding the fact that the development is not EIA development the Applicant is preparing a detailed planning application submission which will fully appraise the potential for environmental impacts and to inform the provision of suitable mitigation and enhancement measures as part of the proposal.

We will be outlining our full environmental mitigation measures for the project as part of our application submission, which members of the public will be able to view on the Council’s website.

The application will be supported by the following technical assessments:

  • Ecological Assessment Report (as detailed above)
  • Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA)The planning application will be supported by a full LVIA prepared by a Chartered Landscape Architect in accordance with various best practice documents and guidance, which will be listed in full within the LVIA, and which includes the Guidelines for Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (3rd edition) (Landscape institute and Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (2013).  The full methodology utilized within the LVIA will be provided in an Appendix of the LVIA.
  • Access StrategyA Transport engineer has visited the site, undertaken traffic survey works, and liaised within the Highways Authority to inform the design of a suitable means of access to the site by the vehicles required to access during the construction/decommissioning phase.
  • Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP)The CTMP will provide the detail of the access to the site, the construction traffic route, breakdown of traffic movements, the need for any temporary off-site mitigation including traffic management, and the process for agreeing a condition survey at a later date if ultimately required.   Swept path assessments will be included as part of the CTMP drawn off a topographical survey base.  Detail of any off-site mitigation and management measures required will also be provided within this report.
  • Construction Traffic Method Statement (CTMS)A CTMS will be prepared to address the highways implications of the cable route proposed between the site and the Points of Connecting at Wing Water Treatment Works and the substation at Oakham.
  • Flood Risk Assessment and Surface Water Drainage StrategyThe site is situated in Zone 1 for flood risk (i.e. having a less than 1 in 1000 annual probability of river or sea flooding (<0.1%) in any year.  Despite this low risk a Flood Risk Assessment and Surface Water Drainage strategy is required to be prepared due to the area of the proposal exceeding 1ha to ensure that the flood risk is fully understood in relation to site conditions and to demonstrate that the development would not give rise to any increased flood risk elsewhere.
    • Agricultural Land Classification Survey
    • Noise Impact Assessment
    • Arboricultural Assessment: Tree and Hedgerow Survey; Arboricultural Impact Assessment; Tree and Hedgerow Protection Plan.
    • Glint and Glare Assessment
    • Heritage Impact Assessment
    • Phase 1 Geo Environmental Assessment/Preliminary Risk Assessment and Walkover Survey

The Applicant has sought pre-application advice to confirm acceptability of the scope of the proposed supporting information from Rutland County Council in advance of submission.


About the project

Staveley Solar Farm is a new solar energy project being developed by Bluestone Energy, in conjunction with Anglian Water who are a local water supplier.

Approximately 10-15% of power from the Staveley Solar Farm would be utilised at the Wing Water Treatment Works via a ‘direct wire’ and around 75-80% of the power would be used by Anglian Water to decarbonise operations across their wider estate. The remaining energy generated would be exported to the National Grid.

If Staveley Solar Farm is granted consent, it would help to provide clean, sustainable energy to Rutland’s water supply and contribute to local and national net zero targets.

The solar farm has been designed to allow existing sheep grazing to continue and is an element of farm diversification that will support food production on the wider farmstead in the long term.

We have now submitted a formal planning application to Rutland County Council. If you wish to comment on Staveley Solar Farm’s planning application, a link can be found HERE.

Bluestone Energy is a renewable technology developer, committed to supporting the global target of net zero carbon and creating a cleaner, greener, more sustainable world for future generations.

Together, we are working with Anglian Water to help achieve their ambitious target of 45% renewable energy generation by 2025 to become a net zero organisation by 2030. Incorporating renewable energy sources such as Staveley Solar Farm is needed to meet this and bring Rutland one step closer to reaching net zero. Reducing reliance on the National Grid also gives Anglian Water more control over operational costs.

The Site is located on land to the south of Pilton Village, Luffenham Lane, Pilton, in Rutland, and comprises approximately 80 hectares (ha) of a 1,380ha landholding, historically used for ironstone quarrying operations.

The following map above shows the design that has been submitted to Rutland County Council as part of our planning application .

The feedback we received during our public consultation in 2023 has helped shape the plans that we’ve now submitted to Rutland County Council in our planning application. This design also reflects pre-application advice we have received from Rutland County Council as the Local Planning Authority on planning policy which we are required to adhere to.

The feedback received during our public consultation, and how this has been taken into account within our final designs, is summarised in our Statement of Community Involvement and You Said, We Did document, which will be available following submission.

The image below shows an aerial viewpoint of the site, including the cable route connecting to Wing Water Treatment works.

We have listened to your feedback on our proposed community benefit fund and have increased our monetary offering. If you would like to find out more information or wish to submit ideas, this can be found on our Community Benefit page.

The images below show viewpoints of the site from different locations, showing how they will look during the 1st and 15th year during operation. These viewpoints have been set-up to represent an open view across the site during winter and therefore a ‘worst case’.

1. Viewpoint 4 – Bridleway E279 west of North Luffenham Road.

The existing viewpoint from Bridleway E279 west of North Luffenham Road.
The viewpoint from Bridleway E279 west of North Luffenham Road during the 1st year of operation.
The viewpoint from Bridleway E279 west of North Luffenham Road during the 15th year of operation.

2. Viewpoint 5 – North Luffenham Road, near residential properties, looking northwest.

The existing viewpoint from North Luffenham Road, near residential properties, looking northwest
The viewpoint from North Luffenham Road, near residential properties, looking northwest, during the 1st year of operation.
The viewpoint from North Luffenham Road, near residential properties, looking northwest, during the 15th year of operation.

3. Viewpoint 6 – Public Right of Way (PRoW) near the western edge of Morcott, looking northwest to northeast.

The existing viewpoint of the PRoW near the western edge of Morcott, looking northwest to northeast.
The viewpoint from the PRoW near the western edge of Morcott, looking northwest to northeast, during the 1st year of operation.
The viewpoint from the PRoW near the western edge of Morcott, looking northwest to northeast, during the 15th year of operation.

4. Viewpoint 7 – The central part of the Public Right of Way (PRoW) between Wing Road in the east and the A47 Morcott Road in the southwest, looking northwest to northeast.

The existing viewpoint central part of the PRoW between Wing Road in the east and the A47 Morcott Road in the southwest, looking northwest to northeast.
The viewpoint from the central part of the PRoW between Wing Road in the east and the A47 Morcott Road in the southwest, during the 1st year of operation.
The viewpoint from the central part of the PRoW between Wing Road in the east and the A47 Morcott Road in the southwest, during the 15th year of operation.

The map below shows where there are Special Protection Areas in nearby proximity to the proposed site.

Members of the public now have the opportunity to comment on our planning application on Rutland County Council’s website HERE.

The outcome of the planning application will be determined following the consultation period and will either be decided as a delegated decision or at a meeting of the Planning and Licensing Committee. We will be sharing further information about this on our project website when details are confirmed.


Contact us

If you have any questions about Staveley Solar Farm, please don’t hesitate to get in touch:

Email us at: info@staveleysolar.co.uk