Essex: Super-sized solar farm earmarked for 60-acre site in Henham
UTTLESFORD could find itself firmly on the renewable energy map if plans for a 60-acre solar farm – the first of site of its kind in the county – come to fruition.
In an ambitious model being put forward by renewable energy firm MS Power Projects (MSPP), farmland 1,200m north of Henham – an area around the same size as more than 30 football pitches – would have 40,000 frame-mounted solar panels placed in it.
Larry Mark, development director at MSPP, said: “We like our farms to have as little environmental impact as possible and try to conceal them by use of natural barriers such as hedgerows. Because of this, we have had very little adverse reactions to our previous installations.
“Very few residents will be able to see the farm from their homes, but if there isn’t enough natural screening we will consult with the council to improve things, including possibly planting more hedgerows and trees.”
The solar farm will consist of a series of solar panels erected on frames in rows, up to a maximum height of 2.5 metres.
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Once installed, the farm would supply 10MW of energy that will be tapped directly into the National Grid via an underground cable and will supply enough energy to power 2,500 homes.
Over its 25-year life span, the farm will reduce CO2 emissions by 100,000 tonnes and 200,000 tonnes compared with gas and coal-power stations respectively.
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While in use, there is even the possibility that the site will also be used as grazing land as large strips of grass will be left between rows.
No plans have been submitted to Uttlesford District Council - although MSPP has asked for the council’s opinion on screening options - but Mr Mark is keen for people to attend a drop-in public consultation at the end of the month to share their views.
Residents will be able to meet company representatives, look at plans, and make comments at the consultation in Henham Village Hall on Friday August 31, from 3-7pm.
“It is important for us that people attend because we want to know public opinion, and we want to learn from people who undoubtedly have better local knowledge that could be very useful,” he said.
Simon Gray, the chief executive officer for the East of England Energy Group, said the farm would be the most sizeable solar development to date in the region.
“We take a keen interest in all energy sectors, particularly where there is potential local investment in producing energy from sustainable sources to provide vitally needed power to the country in future,” he said.
“But it is important to also consider the interests of the local population, the environment and the financial implications – so each initiative needs careful consideration.”
• Are solar farms preferable to wind farms? And are they the future of green energy for the country? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org