Enso Energy, through its subsidiary company Bramford Green Limited, is proposing to develop a solar farm and battery storage facility on land south of Church Farm, Somersham, Ipswich, IP8 4PN and land east of the Channel, IP8 4JL.
At the start of August 2020, we submitted a report requesting an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Screening Opinion from Mid Suffolk District Council and Babergh District Council. The Council advised the project would require an EIA, and hence we submitted our EIA Scoping Report seeking to agree the scope of the necessary work to the Council on Friday 18 September 2020. The proposed site area has reduced by approximately 38% through the removal of proposed solar panels from the south eastern parcel of land.
The generating station would have an export capacity of up to 49.9MW for distribution to the national grid. This is equivalent to the annual electrical needs of approximately 13,000 family homes. The anticipated CO2 displacement is around 21,500 tonnes per annum, which represents an emission saving equivalent of a reduction in 7,000 cars on the road every year.
The battery storage system will supply electricity to the local electricity network at times of peak energy demand and help make the renewable energy output of the solar farm a secure and reliable part of the UK energy supply.
homes powered per year (equivalent)
tonnes of CO2 displaced per annum
Following the finalisation of the scheme design, a consultation programme with the local community and several in person site visits with local residents, the planning application for Bramford has now been submitted and received validation. The full planning applications are available for download here – DC/21/00060, Babergh and DC/20/05895, Mid Suffolk.
Our previous engagement with the community in October 2020 enabled the development team to take on-board local feedback and look at ways of improving and enhancing the positive aspects of our scheme. In response to a number of the issues raised during the public consultation process and resident site visits, the design of the scheme has been amended as follows:
- Reduced extent of solar panel area to increase set back distances from adjoining boundaries with a number of residential properties and gardens;
- Additional screen planting around residential properties and gardens on the periphery of the Proposed Development;
- Removal of the proposed construction access track between the northern and southern solar array land parcels;
- Amendment to the construction traffic access points, to introduce a generally equal split of HGV movements at the north of the Site and also the south of the Site (previously all construction movements were to access from the north);
- Provision of connecting green corridors to enable deer to continue to roam between woodlands in the area and across the Proposed Development;
- Avenue of over mature Poplar trees to be removed from roadside between Fields 1 and 2 for safety reasons and re-instatement of species rich native hedgerows; and
- Introduction of proposed Nature Areas in both the northern and southern solar arrays to further add to biodiversity in the area.
We held an online public consultation webinar and Q&A session event on Thursday 8th October. The webinar included a ten-minute presentation by the project team where they outlined the draft proposals. During the Q&A session which followed the webinar attendees had the opportunity to ask questions about the draft proposals – the webinar is available to watch by clicking the video below.
During the webinar a member of the project team referred to 80,000 MWh when discussing the site’s annual energy generation. The correct figure is 60,000 MWh. We apologise for any confusion this may have caused. It is this figure which will meet the annual electricity needs of 13,000 family homes.
Evolving concept design
What are the features and benefits of the solar farm and battery storage facility?
The main benefits of the development proposed are summarised below:
- It will assist Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils to urgently reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with local, national and international targets and its declared Climate Emergency to transition to a low carbon future.
- Contribute towards the security of energy supply in Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils through the provision of significant amounts of local, competitive renewable energy.
- The solar panels will utilise an innovative tracking system, allowing the solar panels to track the sun from east to west, this increases electrical productivity by c. 20-25% when compared to traditional fixed solar arrays.
- The proposals provide an important opportunity to restore biodiversity connections and enhance footpaths that can be enjoyed by the local community.
- No protected landscape, heritage or ecological designations will be adversely affected by the solar farm.
- The solar farm allows intensively farmed agricultural soils to rest for the temporary period of operation (c. 40 years) and the land use can easily be reversed to agriculture at the end of the project life.
- In addition to renewable energy production, the solar farm will significantly improve biodiversity by planting of wildflower grassland around the arrays; native species rich hedgerows along damaged field boundaries; new trees and scrub to improve species diversity and insect, bat and bird boxes to help local species including bees to thrive (visit www.solar-trade.org.uk/solar-farms).
- We anticipate that construction will be complete in just 30 weeks. This will typically require 8 HGV deliveries to the site each day travelling via the A14, the B113 Bramford Road and Somersham Road.
- Enso Energy is committed to using local suppliers during construction and operation where possible.
Getting to net zero
The UK Government has signed up to a Renewable Energy Directive to provide 15 per cent of energy from renewables by 2020 (based on a 2008 baseline). In addition to this, the Government has made a legal commitment to cutting carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 (Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019). To achieve net zero by 2050 will require a rapid and expanded deployment of low carbon power, including solar.
In July 2019 Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils joined a growing number of local authorities who have declared a climate emergency. Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils has pledged to enable Babergh and Mid Suffolk to become carbon neutral by 2030. The Bramford Solar Farm will help support Suffolk’s aspiration of becoming the greenest county.
At Enso Energy we are making the idea of a country run on renewable energy a reality. We are one of the UK’s most experienced energy developers.
Our ambition is to use the latest solar technology to make a positive impact on our country and the communities we work with. We are firm advocates for renewable, low carbon, efficient, secure and sustainable energy that can be generated, stored and utilised locally. We are passionate about creating positive change for the UK’s energy requirements and carbon commitments.
Our innovative and entrepreneurial approach to subsidy-free renewable energy is assisting the country’s move towards a more secure renewable energy supply and accelerating our combined progress to net zero.
Our approach to consultation during the Coronavirus crisis
We are currently living through a pandemic, the likes of which the country has not experienced in living memory. Enso Energy agree with the recent guidance issued by the UK Government’s Chief Planner, which emphasised that planning applications that positively impact the country and local communities must continue to come forward.
Enso Energy believes that it is vital that local communities are able to see and shape planning applications that may have an impact on them. We therefore held a public consultation webinar and Q&A session, a recording of which can be viewed here. If you have any feedback on our draft proposals please fill in the form below.
Register for updates
Please provide your contact details if you wish to get a response. Any information provided will only be used for the purpose of the planning application to the Local Planning Authority and will not be disclosed with any third parties. Your contact details will not be listed on the planning application documentation.