Hive Energy have today confirmed plans to create a subsidy free 40MW solar park on 72 hectares of land at Woodington Farm near Romsey. The project, which has been in development for nearly two years, will be built in the summer of 2018.
The 40MW solar park which surrounds Hive Energy’s global headquarters will have an on-site grid connection via SSE and will provide clean, green, renewable power which equates to the equivalent annual energy needs of around 9,100 average households which would require around 10,400 homes with domestic roof mounted solar panels to meet the same need. Generation of this energy through solar power will save approximately 16,500 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year. The proximity of the site to Hive’s head office will also allow the R&D team to pilot and test the latest solar and storage technologies.
Hive Energy CEO, Giles Redpath said, “This subsidy free solar farm will generate a level of renewable energy which will make a significant contribution towards meeting national renewable energy targets and will help to increase the security of the UK’s energy supply. The project will also deliver positive social benefits for local people and support the development of innovative energy saving technology”.
Planning for the solar farm has been conducted in close partnership with the local community which has seen the initial plans scaled back to protect local heritage assets and to safeguard the best agricultural land. During the consultation phase of the planning application the British Horse Society highlighted the need for a bridleway in the area to provide a safe alternative to main roads for use by local people and horse riders. Hive Energy’s planners took this objective into consideration and the final project will see the development of a new secure off-road public access five-mile bridleway which will pass through 30 acres of private woodland.
Test Valley’s Landscape Officer said, “The application has demonstrated that the proposed solar farm could be accommodated within the site without resulting in any loss of or harm to the blocks of woodland surrounding the site which are a key characteristic and component of the existing landscape character. The proposed planting will also contribute to strengthening the existing landscape character.”
In keeping with Hive Energy’s commitment to improving the ecology of its projects and minimising disruption to the topography of the site, a biodiversity management plan will be put in place for the 25 year life-span of the solar park. This will see the development of conservation areas within the site alongside sheep grazing, wildflower seeding and the planting of new trees and hedgerows to encourage birds, bats and insects. The quality of water in the River Blackwater will also improve as the solar farm does not require the use of pesticides and will reduce the waste in surface water run-off from the pig farm.