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February 17, 2022

As the UK battles with the effects of climate change, solar panels have become a viable mainstream solution to the fossil fuel crisis. In 2019, roughly 39% of electricity in the UK was produced using fossil fuels, and 40% of the UK’s energy came from renewables, compared to 10 years ago when fossil fuels accounted for 80% of the UK’s energy production. Renewable energy sources overtook fossil fuels for the first time in autumn 2019 and in April 2020, the UK was labelled a ‘green energy pioneer’ as renewables powered the country for over 18 days straight without coal.

With climate change hot on the agenda for 2022 and the government’s legally binding Net Zero by 2050 target, renewable energy is set to become increasingly important to the way we power our lifestyles. While the UK is not known for its warm and sunny climate, solar power generation only requires some level of daylight, allowing the sun’s energy to be harnessed even on our overcast and rainy days. In fact, the amount of solar power the UK generates every year could produce just over 11 million cups of tea to keep us cosy on the not so sunny days.

Not only is it a clean energy source, but it could be a great way to generate additional income from your land whilst supporting the drive to cleaner energy sources.  As well as providing clean power, they can also be a haven for wildlife, including endangered species of birds, insects and plants making them an ideal choice for anyone wanting to increase their land value whilst helping the environment. As we look towards a net zero future, solar will become a huge part of the energy mix, tackling high energy costs, climate change and biodiversity loss.

They can also be an excellent source of income. A wide range of blue chip investment companies will pay around £1,000 per year per acre in rent - or even more in some cases - on a 30 year lease. At the end of that period, they will remove the panels and restore the land to its original condition at no cost to you.

Solar farms, unlike roof mounted solar panels, are areas where rows of ground mounted solar panels are placed on frames and mounted within the ground to harvest sunlight. They are designed for extensive solar energy generation that feeds directly into the national grid, as opposed to individual solar panels which usually power a single home or building.To achieve that, they typically range in size from 50 acres to 100+ and are usually located within rural areas. Sites are ideally flat and south facing to ensure that consistent, long runs of panels can be installed for optimum energy production. If you’ve got the land, we can get the planning permission and secure a cost-effective connection to the grid, giving you the chance to power up the country and your bank balance.

What types of site are suitable for solar farms?

Solar farms need a lot of space, typically 25 acres of land for every 5 megawatts so if you own a large parcel of land, we’d love to hear from you.  Additional space for equipment such as inverters and storage batteries is required too, and ideally the land would already be connected to the grid although that is not essential. Naturally, a power source submerged in water would not be ideal, so land outside of the flood zone is preferred. If you are not sure whether your land is within a flood zone, please submit your land and we will happily review it against our requirements.

How do you get planning permission for a solar farm?

Ground mounted systems measuring over 9m sq. (approximately 4-5 solar panels) require planning permission and as solar farms are typically built on rural land, they are subject to rigorous planning procedures before you can start harnessing solar power. Although there are clear benefits to solar power, careful consideration needs to be given to a number of factors at the very beginning of the planning process, far before a planning application is submitted.

A planning application will typically require a suite of technical documents to be submitted for assessment by the Council. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment to demonstrate that the development will not cause undue harm to the landscape;
  • an Ecological Assessment to outline biodiversity management plans, habitat creation and maintenance and ensure biodiversity net gain can be achieved on site; and
  • a Planning Statement outlining compliance with local and national planning policy.

Consultation with the Local Planning Authority is essential throughout the process. We can work with our trusted team of external expert consultants to ensure that your solar farm development application is accompanied by thorough and robust reports.

How do I connect my solar farm to the electricity grid?

Although securing planning permission is very important, it is also only half of the story. For a solar farm to be of benefit, it must be connected to the electric grid. That isn't just as straight forward as having a power line nearby, however - it all depends how much capacity there is in the grid to take the extra power generated.

Unfortunately, that sort of information isn't publicly available. Instead, you must discuss your connection requirements with the local electricity distributor and agree a point of connection for your solar farm - and the cost of doing so. We work in partnership with a team of technical specialists who will have those discussions with the network operator on your behalf.

Our team can help you secure both planning permission and a grid connection for your land, allowing you to help power your local community, support the switch to renewable energy and maximise your land’s value. We’ll assess the social, economic and ecological factors and work with the local authority to ensure any harm is appropriately managed to secure planning permission on your land.

So, if you own 120 acres or above of low-grade agricultural land with road access, please get in touch today for a free, no obligation assessment.

Find out how we can help.
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