Solar park could see 22,000 panels placed on 25-acre site

A SOLAR farm could be built on a piece of farmland on the outskirts of Weston-super-Mare.
International solar park developer Enfinity wants to create a solar park on land currently used to grow cereal crops at South Hill Farm, Bridgwater Road, Bleadon.
The plans, being put forward by the UK branch of the firm, are for a five-megawatt plant which could see up to 22,000 solar panels installed on up to 25 acres of land.
The panels, which would sit between one metre and three metres above the ground and measure one metre by 1.65 metres in size, would be installed in 67 rows and mounted on metal frames.
Special inverters would also be installed to convert the electricity so it can be fed into the local grid and used by thousands of residents in the local area.
The panels generate power from indirect and direct sunlight, which would be fed into the local distribution network. A temporary construction compound would be built while the park was developed, along with access tracks to the site.
Enfinity, which is planning several other solar parks across the UK, is now discussing with North Somerset Councilwhether an Environmental Impact (EIA) Assessment is needed ahead of the firm submitting plans for the development.
If the project gets the green light it is estimated it would take two months to build and could be operational by 2012. The solar plant, which would be operational for 25 years, would generate around 4.5 million kilowatt-hours of energy per year.
An operational team will be appointed to take care of the day-to-day management of the site.
Enfinity say they believe a full EIA is not required, stating the scheme is “unlikely to result in significant effects to the environment”.
Enfinity UK business development director Bob Ayres said: “Formal decisions regarding the proposed development in terms of its size and capacity are still being considered, hence our approach to North Somerset.
“In line with our development approach we will, subject to the response from North Somerset and the continuation of the project, proceed to hold consultation with the local public and these events will be advertised locally.
“The project is being developed in line with the UK Government’s commitment to renewable energy and for the increased need for locally embedded micro-generation. Solar photo voltaic is an attractive opportunity for the development of sustainable and renewable energy and provides opportunities, particularly for owners of buildings with large roof spaces, where the panels can be installed and the electricity generated supplied for the onsite consumption avoiding the purchase of grid-supplied electricity.”
This is the second solar energy park being planned for North Somerset.
The Evening Post reported last year how Edinburgh-based renewable energy firm Sunlec wants to create a solar energy park on a 45-acre site in Backwell.
The site – which is designated green belt land – is one of a number currently being considered by the renewable energy developer, which is looking at a number of locations for similar projects across England and South Wales.