More detail on Shelswell solar farm proposal

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THE firm behind plans for a 29-acre solar energy farm on the Shelswell Park Estate near Bicester has revealed more detail on the proposal.

A planning application for the site north of Fringford was published by Cherwell District Council (CDC) earlier this month, containing details of photovoltaic (PV) panels, an electrical inverter, transformer cabinets, fencing, security cameras and landscaping.

Alectron Investments, the firm behind the proposal, says the solar farm could generate up to 5MW of electricity – enough to power 1,000 homes. Alectron said it chose the site because it has suitable terrain and limited shadow, and is close to a National Grid connection.

Existing hedgerows will help screen the PV panels, and there would be negligable impact on wildlife, Alectron says.

In an overview of the proposal, Alectron said the Shelswell Estate has already adopted activities including venue hire and sustainable forestry in addition to traditional farming.

The document states: “Our intention is to keep the land in agricultural production, but at a lower intensity, thus helping to diversify the farming business with the addition of energy generation, but also providing for a number of biodiversity and environmental improvements.

“Sheep will be grazed alongside the solar PV to continue the farmland use and the existing hedges will be improved to benefit wildlife and reduce visual impact.”

Alectron says all equipment will be removed when the solar farm is no longer needed, and the land will be returned to its current use.

If the scheme is approved, panels of about 2.5 metres in height would be positioned in multiple rows around 10 metres apart. Access routes would be informal tracks rather than surfaced roads.

Solar panels could either be mounted on frames or secured to foundations, and inverter cabins will collect the electricity.

Anti-reflective black panels will help reduce the scheme’s visual impact, Alectron says, and there will be very little noise or vibration, if any.

Applications relating to two other PV projects were also published by CDC this month. One submitted by Aardvark Environment Matters is associated with land off Bicester Road in Chesterton, and the other, submitted by Fluids In Motion, seeks permission for a ground-mounted PV array off Mill Lane in Kirtlington.