Supporting Communities

Our commitment to being a good neighbour

We are committed to being a good neighbour for the lifetime of all of our solar parks.

As a member of the Solar Trade Association we pledge to uphold the 10 commitments asked of all solar park developers within the organisation. We look to invest into projects that local people themselves say they’d like us to support and as well as creating clean energy for thousands of homes and businesses, our solar parks can bring a host of other positive benefits.

When submitting a planning application for a park we always outline ways we could contribute to communities, such as:

  • Maintaining or creating footpaths and bridleways within our sites to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors.
  • Putting up information boards for people to find out more about the park and how it works.
  • Creating open-classroom facilities for schools and children’s groups to support outdoor learning, helping young minds to discover the science behind solar and the benefits it can bring.
Students visiting a solar park

Students visiting a solar park

 

Our sites are benefiting British businesses too. We work with British companies to build our solar parks, creating and supporting vital new jobs. Wherever possible, local nurseries supply us with home-grown varieties of hedging and trees that act as screening around our sites.

Consultation process and typical timeline

Before a planning application is even brought forward, there is a great deal of work that goes into each project to balance its potential to make renewable energy with local people and wildlife.

Here is what a typical timeline for one of our solar parks looks like:

  1. After identifying a potential site, we carry out extensive studies to make sure it meets all of the strict criteria we set ourselves. These typically include:
    • Environmental Impact Assessment
    • Landscape Visual Impact Assessment
    • Ecological Assessment
    • Archaeological Investigation
    • Flood Risk Assessment
    • Agricultural Circumstances Assessment
  2. We meet with a planning officer from the local authority to discuss our proposal in principle and agree how best to consult with local people.
  3. We then write to people living locally, and to the parish council and local authority, to introduce ourselves and to outline our proposal.
  4. There is then a period of public consultation to give people an opportunity to consider the plans in more detail and ask any questions they may have. We also ask for feedback on the proposals so we can listen carefully to everyone’s views and take these into account.

Ecologist doing plant survey on Barnock Hills Hollows National Nature Reserve Cambridgeshire England. Image shot 2000. Exact date unknown.

Once we have reviewed all of the feedback we’ve received from people and important organisations and completed all of the detailed studies we need to do, we finalise our proposals and submit a planning application for consideration by the local authority. This includes the findings of all of the studies and assessments we have carried out. People are then able to submit comments to them as part of the planning process.

The aim of the planning process is to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to have their say, so that the local authority can make a balanced, informed decision.