Old Wood Energy Park planning application submitted

22nd February 2024

A solar energy farm capable of supplying cheap and green energy to more than 17,500 homes is being planned for Nottinghamshire.

Renewable energy specialist Exagen has submitted plans to set up the solar farm and battery storage facility on a site in Rushcliffe.

The amount of electricity the site will be capable of generating equates to around a quarter of the energy needs of the entire Rushcliffe borough.

Exagen is applying to build the Old Wood solar farm on lower grade agricultural land, near the village of Wysall, that is not part of the green belt.

The location has been chosen because the electricity generated and stored onsite can be fed directly into existing power lines which pass overhead.

Andrew Mott, Head of Planning and Environment at Exagen, said: “Rushcliffe has set out ambitious targets to help the borough achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. Our Old Wood Energy Park will make a significant contribution to meeting that goal, displacing 22,455 tonnes of CO2 each year.”

“The UK’s last coal-fired power station at Ratcliffe-on-Soar only a few miles away will be decommissioned soon. This project represents a symbolic, local opportunity to help the UK switch away from polluting fossil fuel power to quickly generated solar energy.”

Exagen’s team of highly experienced technical and environmental specialists have been working on the planning application for the past two years, and have put in place a series of special measures to protect and enhance the landscape and its wildlife:

  • Preserving all existing trees and hedgerows around the site, alongside new belts of woodland, 2.5 km of new hedgerows and further planting to plug any gaps.
  • 24 hectares of new grassland planted with wildflowers.
  • Green corridors to allow wildlife to pass freely through the site, with traditional 8-foot wooden post stock fencing which keeps deer away from the solar panels but allows smaller mammals like rabbits to pass through.
  • Badger setts will be undisturbed and a nesting area for skylarks is being set aside.
  • Existing footpaths will be maintained, with the Midshires Way in a screened corridor 40-200 metres wide. This is much greater than legal requirements and will increase the amount of land accessible to walkers.

Inward-facing CCTV will monitor the solar panel areas, but this will be activated only by movement.

Though the application has only just been submitted to Rushcliffe Borough Council (app ref: 24/00161/FUL), Exagen has already carried out consultation with more than 100 nearby residents and spoken to local councillors.

Exagen’s community engagement officer, Sam Warne, said: “We want to work with residents and local councillors to ensure this project makes a positive contribution to the environment in every sense. We’ve already made changes to our plans in response to some of the early feedback we’ve received, particularly around public rights of way.”

Other changes made include increasing the distance between the solar farm and Bunny Old Wood to the north – which will be around 100 feet away at its closest point – and setting the solar farm at least one field back from Bradmore Road, which passes to the east of the site.

The site near Old Wood has been chosen because it enables the energy generated to be connected directly to the National Grid, avoiding costs that would be fed back into bills.

Plans for the Old Wood Energy Park also include a battery facility at the southern end of the proposed site, so that the power generated can be stored and provided to the Grid when it’s most needed.

The plans will also lead to an increase in the biodiversity of the site, with lower grade agricultural land being replaced by grassland and wildflowers.

Exagen has set up a website at https://exagen.co.uk/projects/old-wood-energy-park/ which provides more information about the project.

Andrew Mott added: “This planning submission is a culmination of months of engagement and consultation. Our team have gathered input from local communities, council officers and external stakeholders to shape our project for the better. “We’ll continue to listen to residents and councillors as our application progresses.”

The planning application for the Old Wood Energy Park has been submitted to and validated by Rushcliffe Borough Council. Any representations or comments on the application from interested parties should be submitted directly to the council using the online form under the ‘Comments’ section on the application or in writing (letter or email) to Rushcliffe Borough Council, Rushcliffe Arena, Rugby Road, West Bridgford, Nottingham, NG2 7YG or planningandgrowth@rushcliffe.gov.uk, quoting the application reference number 24/00161/FUL.

Link to application