Frequently Asked Questions
Access & Construction
1. Why are you proposing to route construction equipment through the village?
At the moment we are considering options to access the site, however the ‘worst case’ option would see traffic leaving the A60 at Kirk Lane, through the village to Asher Lane and on to site. We’re aware of other options and are working to progress and use these if we can. Such routing would be subject to traffic management measures to reduce the impact to the community where possible.
2. How many construction vehicles would there be?
If delivery vehicles were averaged out across the 6-9 month construction process, there would be approximately 8 ‘two way’ heavy goods vehicles (HGV) movements per day – equating to 16 daily movements.
3. How much concrete is being used in the construction process?
Solar panels do not require concrete foundations unless in very special circumstances, and no such circumstances are currently envisaged at the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park. Some concrete is required for foundations at the new substation, but this is very localised.
4. What does solar farm construction involve?
Firstly access tracks would be built through the site (likely made of crushed stone, which would be left to grass over with time), after which the supporting frames are pushed into the ground. The solar panels themselves would then be bolted on to the frames, connected up by underground wiring and the site then secured with deer fencing.
5. Where would the solar panels be manufactured?
There has been some media attention about the development of solar panels in certain countries, however more and more panels are now being manufactured in countries like Germany, America and Canada. A commercial decision would be made as to the source of the panels for the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park if planning permission is granted and Ridge Clean Energy is not tied to any particular manufacturer.
Agricultural land/Land Use
1. Wouldn't the land be better used for growing crops?
The UK needs to not only decarbonise its energy mix, but also boost its domestic energy security which means developments like the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park are really important. Whilst the land wouldn’t be used to grow crops during the operational period, the landowner can continue to farm their remaining farmland. At the end of the operational period, the landowner would be free to farm the land once again, on better agricultural land with a higher organic carbon content having secured the diversification of their farming practice for generations to come.
2. How are we treating the land below and between the solar panels?
Land between the panels would be sown with a wildflower seed mix and left fallow to become a biodiverse rich habitat which would increase in organic carbon content over the lifetime of the project. The land wouldn’t be sprayed and would be in a better state for agricultural production once decommissioned. Following decommissioning, studies have shown that a field that has been allowed to lie fallow for just a year produces a higher crop yield when it is re-planted.
3. Could the land below and between the solar panels be used for growing crops?
The solar panel rows are spaced to maximise the amount of clean renewable energy generated, whilst allowing a net gain in biodiversity. Unfortunately, the spacing isn’t large enough to allow machines to sow and harvest crops.
4. Are we proposing to develop on high or low quality agricultural land?
The quality of agricultural land in the UK ranges from 1 (being the best) to 5 (being the worst). Land at the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park is ‘Grade 3A’.
5. What makes this land better for a solar farm than other land in the area?
A number of factors including large distances to properties, accessibility to the local electricity distribution network, large open fields patterns, a viable access route and a willing landowner.
The site was identified for potential by the Ridge Clean Energy team due to its proximity to Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, which is set to be decommissioned by September 2024, freeing up precious grid capacity. The land is conveniently located to the local electricity distribution network (a 132kV line runs adjacent to the site which is our currently intended point of connection).
1. How high would the solar panels be?
The solar panels would range from 90cm at their lowest point, to up to 3m at their highest point.
2. Why is the operational period 35-40 years?
Placing a backstop date on any permission allows Rushcliffe Borough Council to maintain control over any non-agricultural use of the land. In addition, technology in general could look very different in 35-40 years' time, so it’s only right that the land isn’t left for solar generation in perpetuity.
3. What options are there once the operational period expires?
If planning consent is granted, it would be accompanied by a set of planning conditions one of which would stipulate that the development must be decommissioned. After this time, the landowner would be free to return the land to agricultural use. If anything else were to happen to the land, it would require a new planning permission at that point in time.
4. How often do solar panels, or battery units need to be replaced in this period?
Solar panels are robust and would generally last for the operational period of the development. The battery units would likely be replaced every decade.
5. If more advanced solar technology comes along in that period, would you consider swapping out equipment?
One of the planning conditions accompanying any planning permission would likely set the dimensions and overall heights of the development. If new technology becomes available during the operational period, and it fits within the stipulated dimensions from the initial planning permission, yes we could consider using the new technology if it would improve the amount of electricity generation on the site and be cost effective to do so.
6. What consideration has been given to users of the adjacent railway, or the railway itself?
As part of our application, we will be submitting a ‘Glint and Glare assessment’ which will consider any reflected light to railway users. It should be remembered that solar panels are designed to absorb as much sun light as possible, rather than to reflect it. We’re considering planting new oak trees where our proposed site boundary runs in close proximity to the rail track – the potential for impact from root damage would be mitigated.
7. What happens if RCE goes into receivership?
One of Ridge Clean Energy’s main owners also owns one of the largest privately held companies in the US, with an annual turnover of more than $2 Billion. Ridge, therefore, has access to more than enough funding required to develop the project. Additionally, the project will be held in a separate special purpose vehicle. However unlikely, if something did happen to Ridge, the project would be a valuable asset that, once built, would continue to generate and sell electricity and therefore, would be financially viable. Operation of the project would comply with the planning conditions, for example, relating to the environmental management and decommissioning of the site.
8. There are a number of other solar developments in the area, why do we need more?
The UK has a ambition to decarbonise its electricity supply by 2035 and is legally required to reach ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050. More projects such as the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park are required to not only achieve this, but to also combat climate change, secure our domestic energy supply and move away from volatile energy markets. When there is space in the local electricity grid to accept new renewable energy generation (as there is at the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park), we should seek to maximise these opportunities.
We will be assessing the impacts of our project in cumulation with others in the immediate area, and it is for Rushcliffe Borough Council to determine the merits of our application (based on planning policy and feedback they receive during the determination phase).
9. Does power from the solar farm provide a direct supply of energy to the community?
The electricity generated by the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park would feed directly into the local electricity distribution network. There may be times when this electricity is distributed to the local area, or it may be used more widely. However, there would not be a direct connection from the site to the local community.
1. Are there any hazardous materials associated with the proposed battery units?
The battery storage containers are sealed units with appropriate prevention measures in place to prevent, and if necessary contain, any leaks. They would also be placed on hardstandings to act as another barrier to reduce the possibility of any leakages. Information relating to this will be included in the planning application.
2. How does battery storage work?
The battery units are charged when the solar park is producing more electricity than it is allowed to export, this energy is then release to the local electrical distribution network during times of high demand to smooth the output from the solar development. The batteries can also import electricity from the local electrical distribution network when there is excess electricity, again releasing it during times of high demand.
3. What are batteries made out of?
The batteries proposed at the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park would likely be lithium ion batteries.
4. Is it typical for solar farms to now include battery storage units?
Yes, this is a common practice which assists in smoothing the output from the solar park as well as the electricity grid. Battery storage projects are now common developments in their own right. They can also provide services such as frequency and voltage control, which is useful for the grid.
1. Can solar panels be recycled?
More than 90% of each solar panel can be recycled, returning the valuable component parts back into the circular economy.
1. Would ecology be negatively affected by the development?
No - solar panels work really well with local ecology. The deer fencing has a gap which allows animals to enter the site, which becomes a secure wildlife haven. We are proposing to enhance the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park to result in a net gain in biodiversity by sowing wildflower mix between the panels as well as planting new hedgerows and trees. We would also keep the land immediately adjacent to the Fairham Brook open as it is a well used corridor by ecology.
2. Who would be responsible for managing the areas of ecological enhancement?
The site operator would be responsible for the management and maintenance of these areas, rather than the local community.
3. Will the solar farm negatively impact the water quality of the Fairham Brook?
The Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park is being designed to prevent impact to the Fairham Brook as much as possible, and any run off from the site would be reduced to existing ‘greenfield’ rates.
4. What will noise levels be from the development?
We’re confident that noise wouldn’t be an issue from the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park. This is because of the distance between the infrastructure and properties, as well as our proposed bunding surrounding the battery units. There would be some sound heard when walking along the footpaths immediately adjacent to the site, but any sound generated would quickly dissipate with distance. We will be submitted a noise assessment as part of our application for planning permission.
5. Are we losing any footpaths as a result of this solar farm?
Whilst there may be some temporary disruption to footpaths during construction, all existing footpaths would remain open during the operational lifetime of the development.
1. How much is the community benefit fund?
The community benefit fund would consist of £500 per MW exported to the grid per year. The current Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park consists of 49.9MW export, so the community benefit fund would amount to £24,950 per year.
2. What are the goals of the community funding and how will the community be involved in its distribution?
The goals of the community funding are to help support and realise community-identified initiatives that will strengthen the local fabric and assist in achieving the community’s net zero goals. In addition, we will provide assistance to local groups in seeking grant funding from other sources with our contribution underpinning the fundraising effort.
3. Have we contacted Gotham, East Leake, and Bunny about potential initiatives?
We have written to the parishes of Ruddington, Gotham, Barton in Fabis and East Clifton about our proposal, and distributed invitations to the public exhibitions to over 2,300 local community members.
4. How can we get in touch with views on how the community benefit fund could be spent?
We are collating the comments received to date to assist understanding on how the future community benefit fund could be structured, if you have any thoughts or ideas please email us using this dedicated project website.
1. Are we connected to the housing development in any way?
No, Ridge Clean Energy is not connected to any of the housing developments in the area, and is not involved in any housing development.
2. Have you developed projects like this before?
We have been working since 2003 to create locally supported renewable energy parks in the UK – combining solar, wind, and batteries to optimise renewable megawatt hours and, at the same time, creating local hubs to help communities on a path to net zero.
3. What other developments are you working on?
We currently have a portfolio of projects at various stages of the planning process, spread across the UK. Take a look at our website for further information.