Land at Freathy Solar Park

Environmental Impact Assessment for a Solar PV Park in Cornwall

Client

British Solar Renewables / St Anthony 101

Background

British Solar Renewables brought forward a site on land at Freathy, on the Anthony Estate in Cornwall for the installation and operation of a solar photovoltaic (PV) park with a proposed peak output of approximately 4.9 MW. Landmark managed the EIA and planning application, undertook ecological surveys and Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) of the site.

Description

Although not located within a ‘sensitive area’, Cornwall Council determined that EIA was required to be undertaken due to the historically rich, sensitive and locally valued receiving landscape. Landmark coordinated an EIA that included chapters on Archaeology and Heritage, Socioeconomic Impacts and Landscape. Parallel to the EIA, the planning application was supported by a suite of technical reports including Flood Risk Assessment and Agricultural Land Class Assessment.

Technical surveys undertaken to inform the planning application determined that the site had no significant ecological importance and that flood risk was low. Nonetheless measures were included in the proposed site design to minimise surface water run-off, retain existing wildlife features and enhance the value of the site for biodiversity. The archaeology and heritage assessment acknowledged nearby assets (scheduled monuments) for which impacts on setting and enjoyment were assessed and the LVIA identified the areas of the site that were likely to be most visible to sensitive receptors. The site was determined to comprise Best and Most Versatile (BMV) agricultural land (in part).

The layout of the solar park responded iteratively to the EIA and technical assessments. Mitigation measures were embedded into the design where possible and the panel layout modified to minimise landscape, heritage and BMV land impacts.

Client Benefits

The Environmental Statement demonstrated that withdrawal from the BMV fields also reduced landscape and heritage impacts to an acceptable level and that the solar park development was in accordance with planning policy. Planning consent was in December 2015. Landmark’s planners engaged proactively with the Case Officer throughout determination to minimise pre-commencement conditions, allowing prompt commencement of construction on-site.