Figure 1: Site photo of Estuary Farm, King’s Lynn

Introducing Estuary Farm solar park

Namene Solar and SENS have submitted a planning application to the Borough Council of King’s Lynn & West Norfolk for a solar photovoltaic scheme on land off Kilham’s Way, King’s Lynn, PE30 2HY. The solar scheme would have a capacity of 49.99 MW and a battery storage capacity of about 15 MW. Based on the assumption that a household has an average electricity consumption of 3.7 MWh/year in England, the project could potentially provide power for the equivalent of 13,500 households every year.


Estuary Farm site and surroundings

The site lies 120 m north of the built-up area of King’s Lynn and is currently a series of agricultural fields separated by boundary hedgerows.

Current use of land: Arable
Flood zone rating: Zone 2
Total site area: 56.81 hectares
Land designation: None
Site access: Good
Point of connection location: Off-site cabling to run to the south to form a connection to the King’s Lynn grid substation

Project benefits

What are the benefits of the solar park?

This application presents an opportunity for a renewable energy development that will produce a significant amount of renewable, carbon-free electricity that will connect directly to the local energy distribution network, thereby helping to support the nation’s wider renewable energy strategy and to meet the government’s identified clean energy targets. The proposal has also been designed to minimise any potential impacts on the environment and to provide an opportunity for biodiversity net gains throughout the site.

Figure 2: Site photos

Economic

  • There is now a growing demand for renewable energy sources within the UK because of increased awareness of the current climate emergency. Solar farms such as this development present an ideal solution, given their relatively quick start-up time and low maintenance costs.
  • The proposal will provide long and short-term jobs and will support the diversification of an agricultural business.
  • The proposed development is a temporary installation that will not result in any permanent loss of agricultural land.

Environmental

  • The proposed development will minimise any potential impacts on the environment and provide biodiversity net gains throughout the site.
  • The project will have a life span of about 40 years and is expected to export 50,000 MWh/year to the local distribution network. Based on the assumption that a household has an average electricity consumption of 3.7 MWh/year in England, the project could potentially provide power for the equivalent of 13,500 households every year.

Social

  • Renewable energy generation will help in alleviating climate change and the social issues that this causes.

Other considerations

Biodiversity net gain

The proposed development will minimise any potential impacts on the environment and, in addition, provide biodiversity net gains throughout the site. In particular, we are seeking to enhance local habitats by implementing measures such as creating and enhancing exisitng site boundaries with native species, providing wildflower mix across the site and taking the site out of intensive crop production.


Access and traffic management

The site will be accessed from an existing access point and include the installation of 6-m-wide gates and a turning area. The DNO substation would have a separate access branching off the existing access. This would be maintained for the life of the development. Kilham’s Way connects to Edward Benefer Way, which provides access to the town of King’s Lynn.

It is considered that the existing access to the site would be suitable for construction and maintenance vehicles and that, once the development becomes operational, the development will create very little additional traffic. The duration of the construction period will be short owing to the nature of the development.

A Construction Traffic Management Plan (CTMP) will be submitted with the planning application to manage construction traffic and specifically HGVs accessing the site during construction operational hours.


Public Right of Way

A Public Right of Way (PRoW) runs north to south through the eastern side of the site (Ref. South Wootton FP1). The scheme is seeking to retain the PRoW in its current location, although the potential for a diversion to the eastern perimeter of the application site will also be explored. The current PRoW is not demarked and a diversion with additional fencing and landscaping would represent a betterment of the site.


Landscape

The site does not fall under any statutory or non-statutory designations for landscape quality. The proposed development, by its very nature and countryside location, will have some limited effects in relation to landscape. A landscape and visual appraisal (LVA) will be undertaken for the proposed development that will consider the effects of the proposed scheme on the landscape as an environmental resource in its own right. The LVA will consider the potential visual change of views of the area in addition to assessing the impact of the proposed development on visual amenity.

Figure 3: Local topography

Operational lifespan

The development would have a lifespan of about 40 years. At the end of the useful life of the facility, it will be decommissioned and all the associated equipment will be removed. It is considered that the land can then be quickly reverted to agricultural use.