Tar Farm Solar Farm update - October 28th 2021

Following on from the community meeting run by developer, Bluefield Renewable Developments Ltd, (Bluefield Development), the Parish Council held a further meeting with them at which your concerns were raised and discussed in some detail. Here is a summary:

This is very much a first discussion; no decision has been made by the Parish Council as to whether to object completely or in part or to approve completely or approve in part. There will be a long planning application period where documents will go into great detail with regard to ecology, environment, wildlife, biodiversity, effect on birdlife etc. where we as the Parish Council, and you as residents, will be able to comment / object further.  It is vital that we have your further views on the discussion so far so that we can go back to them at this early stage before they submit the planning application. 

  • At the outset we emphasised that our Neighbourhood Plan is our overriding document and that it should be respected and that the policies within it are unbreakable.
  • We also stressed that any comments made at the meeting were subject to seeing the planning application once submitted and that we reserved the right to change any of our comments made at the meeting. 
Layout
 
We stated that we needed the footpaths to be widened and modified so that they did not feel 'tunnel like'. They have done some work on this by widening the paths to 8 metres. We will be looking for more than this and for them to be made more 'irregular' in shape.
 
  • They have increased the planting throughout the site.
  • They will create some new woodland areas
  • The area closest to the village behind the old railway crossing will be reduced and more planting done there.
  • The inverter closest to the houses will be re-sited to the other (West) end of the field.
  • They confirmed that all the panels will be south facing and will be at the standard height and angle. 
Construction Phase

  • The entrance will be through the old farm. Although they had initially thought about entering the site through the earlier footpath, that would need access permission from landowners and many of the titles for that land are unregistered.
  • They will have a banksman to control site access at both the entrance to the lane off the Stanton Harcourt Road and the entrance to the site.
  • They are looking at ways to protect walkers when crossing the road from one of the footpaths and also through the farmyard, particularly bearing in mind the entrances to the nature reserve
  • The construction period will be 6 months with a further 3 months of installation
  • Once built there will be practically no traffic as it is all controlled by computers from a central location. Any visits generally will be in small vans.
  • Traffic will be continuous throughout the delivery stage - weeks rather than months
  • We asked that there be no work on the whole site on Saturdays and that working hours be kept to 9.00 - 5.00. They agreed not to work on the five fields closest to the village on Saturday mornings (see map). They weren’t keen on the site hours generally being kept to 9.00-5.00 but we pushed them and they went away to think about it. We will watch out for this in the planning application
  • They would build out those five fields intensively so that they were completed in the shortest time possible (they said a week)
  • At the end of the 30 year term they have to return to site to its original state including the removal of the concrete that the inverters stand on (unless they apply to extend the period).
  • Deer fencing will be installed but they will plant hedges/trees on the outside to screen it. The deer fence will allow access for smaller animals but they do need to keep deer out.
  • There will be security cameras but they will follow the line of the fence as they have a legal obligation to ensure that personal privacy is protected.
  • It will be a term of the planning application that the site has to be maintained and that any planting that dies be replaced. Bluefield Development are contracting with the landowners to maintain the site and be responsible for replanting any dieback
Restoration of the site 
 
  • After 15 years of operation an assessment will be made to establish the value of the site and the cost of decommissioning. The money for the decommissioning is then put into a bond. Details for this arrangement will be enshrined in the planning application and we will need to look at it carefully.
  • Each site is set up as a separate company - SPV (special purpose vehicle) - and the fund raising for each site is done by the London Stock Exchange-listed parent company, Bluefield Solar Income Fund (BSIF).  They have never resold a site. 
Planning Application Submission
 
Once the detailed planning application is submitted (c. mid-November) we would appreciate help from anyone who has knowledge of any specialist areas (biodiversity / wildlife for example) whether it be through hobbies, work or experience.
 
We will circulate the links as soon as they are available.
 
We look forward to hearing from you with your views.

South Leigh Parish Council

Tar Farm Solar Farm presentation boards

Tar Farm Solar Farm Proposal

Notice of intention to submit a full planning application for a Solar Farm and associated infrastructure at Tar Farm

 

Construction of the Solar Farm at Twelve Acre Farm

This is a copy of an email from Low Carbon – the developer of the solar farm site to the east of the Barnard Gate road.

Included is the following information:

  • The main contractor.
  • Important dates within the construction program including when construction is due to commence.
  • Construction traffic.
  • Public rights of way.
  • Communication channels available should you wish to contact the project team during the construction period.
  • Project website.

Main Contractor
Engie Fabricom have been appointed as the main construction contractor for the project. They will have day to day responsibility for the construction of the project and will manage a collection of sub-contractors to undertake the work.

Construction Timetable Construction traffic to the project will come directly off the A40. A bell-mouth bordering the A40, and Twelve Acre Farm will be constructed to facilitate that traffic. The construction of the bell-mouth is due to start on Monday, 26th April. This will take between 2-3 weeks to complete.

Upon completion of the bell-mouth, construction works will move onto the project site. This is due to commence on 1st June. Most of the work is anticipated to be completed by 8th November with residual work being undertaken for an additional 3 months.

Construction Traffic
A Construction Traffic Management Plan was part of the planning application process. As you are aware, initially the construction traffic was going to come through Eynsham and down Chilbridge Road, however, this was amended following meetings and discussions with members of the community and the Parish Council. Construction traffic will now access the site directly off the A40.

There will be an average of 10 heavy vehicle movements to and from the site on a daily basis. That will range from 2 on quieter days and up to 15 on busier days. The busier days will be predominantly when the solar panels are being delivered to the site.

Public Rights of Way
A public right of way goes through the middle of the site and a bridleway goes along some of the southern boundary of the site. Both of these will remain open and accessible throughout the construction period.

Communication Channels Should you wish to contact the project team during the construction period there are multiple ways to do so. These are:

  • Freephone information line: 0800 054 1152. This is a freephone number and will not cost you anything other than any charges that derive from using your own mobile or landline.
  • Project email: aurorasolarfarm@lowcarbon.com
  • Send a letter: Freepost LOW CARBON UK SOLAR DEVELOPMENT. You do not need a stamp - just write the address on the envelope and post it - it will arrive at our office.

Note for any emergencies, contact details are posted at the site entrance.

Project Website
The project website will be updated periodically with information on what has been happening onsite and what will be happening in the coming weeks. Photos will also be uploaded occasionally for those that are interested in seeing what is happening.

The project website can be found here.

Upon the commissioning of the solar farm, we intend to hold a community open day to welcome those that are interested to come and have a look around the solar farm. Members of the project team will be on hand to answer any questions.

In the meantime, we are looking forward to moving ahead with the construction of the project. We appreciate that this will have an impact on the local community, and we thank you in advance for your patience. We will do our best to mitigate that impact as much as we can.

Low Carbon logo