Key Campaign Updates
- Site Size reduces 6% to 2,105 acres. Some highway areas and all existing site woodland areas have been removed from their responsibility & calculations – the external footprint is effectively the same.
- Solar area reduces 8% to 1,052 acres. Still planning to generate up to 350MW output, at Stage 1 they thought needed 350 acres more to achieve this.
- 5 miles of permissive paths, but still surrounded by 3.3m high solar panels.
- Cabling to new sub-station may now run through Essendine causing massive disruption and damage to roads and verges and pavements on A6121.
- Mallard Pass are seeking extensive Compulsory Acquisition ‘rights’ in respect of these street works, and other aspects of the construction/operation across the entire site boundary.
80, 400 and 1000 tonne HGV loads during 2 year construction.
- There is no time-limited consent for this application creating much uncertainty.
The Mallard Pass Action Group is a collective of concerned residents formed from within and around the footprint of the Mallard Pass Solar Farm project. Mallard Pass Solar Farm is proposed to be located on 2,105 acres of agricultural land either side of the East Coast main line just north of Stamford.
Villages affected: Essendine, Carlby, Braceborough, Greatford, Barholm, Uffington, Ryhall and Belmesthorpe
It affects at least another 10 villages within a 3 mile radius, as well as being under 1 miles from Stamford.
“The Mallard Pass solar plant proposal is utterly inappropriate. By building on quality agricultural land, we will destroy a natural resource in the heart of England’s green and pleasant land.”
Alicia Kearns, MP for Rutland and Melton
The Key Issues
loss of habitat
loss of productive land
loss of amenity
increased flood risk
site equivalent size
1300 football pitches
miles end to end
2,105 acre site equivalent to 1,300 football pitches and 10 times larger than the largest solar farm currently in the UK. Larger in area than Stamford. Almost 4.2 miles from one end to the other, with a perimeter stretching over 25 miles in entirety.We accept that solar energy has a part to play in supplying renewable energy, where appropriate.
Mallard Pass is an industrial scale solar plant inappropriately designed and disproportionate in response to the need for renewable energy.
It affects at least another 10 villages within a 3 mile radius, as well as being under 1 mile from Stamford.
439 respondents told Mallard Pass which aspects are most important to them
- Local Ecology and Wildlife 87% 87%
- Landscape/ Visual Impact 85% 85%
- Land use and agriculture 76% 76%
- Traffic, access, construction 59% 59%
- Recreation and amenity 40% 40%
- Flood Risk 37% 37%
- Archaeology and local heritage 30% 30%
- Other 21% 21%
- Tourism 11% 11%
Source: Mallard Pass Solar Farm Leaflet February Stage 1 Consultation Report 2022
“I want you to have a voice, so when there is a consultation, please let your voice be heard. Be part of it; contribute to any consultation; and have your say.”
MP for Grantham and Stamford
“The application proposed for Mallard Pass is far too large, it is in the wrong location, it will damage the natural beauty of our area and will detrimentally affect the health and wellbeing of our residents. I appreciate the need for renewable energy, however this application is not sympathetic to its surroundings and lacks community support.”
Leader of South Kesteven District Council
“As the local lead charity for the countryside, CPRE Rutland is pleased to be working with the Mallard Pass Action Group to promote, protect and nurture the local environment so that it may continue to offer the biodiversity, food, wildlife and appropriately scaled sources of low carbon renewable energy which citizens expect in such a rural area.”
Ron Simpson BEM
Chair – CPRE Rutland
Loss of productive agricultural land
There is a clear policy conflict within government which seeks to protect and enhance our domestic production to maintain food security, yet it is encouraging the growth of renewable energy on valuable productive farmland. We are concerned about this considerable loss of land and inadequate policies to protect it, particularly in the light of the Russia/Ukraine war and the impact it is having with global food shortages and food prices. Government policy through the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and draft National Policy for Energy EN3 is clear that ground mounted solar should use previously developed land, contaminated land, industrial land and agricultural land of grade 3b, 4 and 5, not Best and Most Versatile (BMV) land of grade 1,2 and 3a. Following final survey work by Mallard Pass the solar area is 40.7% BMV land, results that needs further validation as the previous survey work concluded 53%.
We believe that no large scale solar plant should be approved for development on greenfield land until the collective impact on the environment, biodiversity and food security is fully understood.
Solar panels should be erected on brownfield sites, all new housing and all commercial buildings. Using productive agricultural land should be an absolute last resort.
Daily Telegraph on 12th February
An extract from the Daily Telegraph 12th February states:
An analysis of data from the solar farm industry has shown that developments currently in the planning or pre-planning stage would total 37 gigawatts (GW) of generating capacity. Critics said that if the proposals are given the go-ahead, it could take as much as 150,000 acres of agricultural land out of production at a time when Britain has less farmland in use than at any time since 1945.The country is already losing 99,000 acres of rural land a year to industrial and other uses.
Net Zero Watch, which monitors the implications of what it fears are expensive and poorly considered climate change policies, said the change will increase Britain’s dependency on food imports. Dr John Constable, Net Zero Watch’s director of energy, said: “Farmland is already a renewable energy producer, making food from sunlight. Sacrificing that national asset to produce low quality electrical energy from solar photovoltaic panels is foolish in itself and will have deep and troubling long-term implications for British food security.” Net Zero Watch said planning guidance should be revised to “protect the national interest” by changing the existing presumption of favour of solar development to one against, forcing developers to prove the case for proposals on their own merits.
Imagine solar panels mounted up to 3.3m high spread across 2,105 acre site of open countryside adjacent to many local villages, and less than 1 mile from Stamford. There will also be 2m high security fencing, CCTV and security lighting to 3.5m around the solar panel fields. Added to that will be inverters and transformers dotted across the site in large unsightly containers emitting significant and constant noise. Given the unsightly nature of this industrial landscape and minimum noise requirements, Mallard Pass has had to take appropriate mitigation measures. Many of the so-called screening enhancements will take up to 15 years and beyond to provide a decent level of screening, but this misses the point as the character and beauty of much of this countryside is the long lightly undulating open vista.
Solar panels up to 3.3m high across 2,105 acre site of open countryside.
Loss of social amenity
If you enjoy walking, cycling, riding or driving through the countryside, and experiencing the health and well-being that brings to us (something that has proved to be so important during Covid) , then imagine the impact of being surrounded on public rights of way and quiet country roads by solar panels and associated equipment in storage containers. Whilst Mallard Pass is planning on offering some 5 miles of permissive routes , this in no way compensates for the negative experience of walking alongside and being surrounded by what is effectively an industrial plant. Note public rights of way are likely be moved or closed during the 2 year construction phase, which could have a significant impact on all users.
Public rights of way may be moved or closed during the construction phase.
Habitat loss and disruption
Mallard Pass give no adequate explanation as to why they need to set aside 50% (1,053acres) of the total site (2,105 acres) for mitigation. They claim the area underneath the panels is more bio-diverse than arable crops, therefore they can achieve their 10% Bio-diversity Net Gain (BNG) target from the solar panel area alone. If that is the case then the scheme could have been more sensitively designed over a far smaller area with a fraction of land required for mitigation and enhancement, with less adverse impacts.
Bio-diversity improvements can only be achieved through careful design and ongoing management, with each area requiring a bespoke approach rather than one-size fits all. BNG is being treated by Mallard Pass as a quantitative tick box exercise for habitat creation, rather than having a qualitative approach delivering long term beneficial habitat outcomes.
The construction process will take up to 2 years during which time there will be disruption and damage to some of the habitat through construction traffic, new tracks built, compaction of the soil, drilling and piling, noise and vibration. Unless this phase is done with the utmost sensitivity to the environment, it will damage the delicate bio-diversity and takes many years to re-establish if ever at all.
Deer will no longer be able to run freely faced with miles of security fencing blocking their natural routes. Not only is the welfare of deer at risk, but that of road users as well. Faced with a reduced area to graze the deer will cause additional damage to ancient woodland, impacting other species, as well as inflicting more concentrated damage to other farmers’ crops. Some badger setts are going to be removed altogether, those that remain will have to navigate their routes though badger gates. Brown hares risk losing much of their habitat also due to security fencing restricting their access.
The creation of any large scale solar development would increase the flood risk to the local countryside, roads, villages, and outlying properties over a wide area. Mallard Pass know this but have not satisfied the concerns of residents in Essendine and Greatford and have purely focussed on managing flood risk on the site.
Laying new tracks and access routes during the construction process to enable the solar panels and fencing to be erected, will cause compaction of the soil across the whole site. During operation ongoing maintenance will cause further compaction to the soil which is already less aerated, reducing the ability to absorb rainwater.
The run-off characteristics of rainwater from solar panels is different to rainwater falling straight to the ground. Rainwater falls evenly over a wide area, the run-off of rainwater from the panels would be in concentrated amounts, like rain running into the gutter of a house. When rainfall is heavy, gutters are deluged with water and overpowered. The same is true for the solar panels except the rain would create water channels/gullies in the soil, causing further compaction of the soil, and ultimately speeding up the run-off from the site into nearby fields, roads, rivers and other vulnerable areas such as some local villages.
The run-off characteristics of rainwater from solar panels is different to rainwater falling straight to the ground .
Traffic disruption and damage
The construction phase will take up to 2 years with all HGVs, abnormal loads and workers’ construction traffic coming through or past the outskirts of many local villages, with the major impacts through Great Casterton, Ryhall and Essendine. This will create added noise, pollution, and damage to roads and associated verges, as well as extra risk for pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders. It is also likely to disturb the bio-diversity down more rural side lanes.
Some of the roads will be too narrow and will require road widening and many special traffic measures. One of the options Mallard Pass is looking at is running the cabling from the solar panels to the new sub-station though Essendine on A6121, ripping up roads and pavements in the process. There will be one main construction compound opposite the current Ryhall sub-station down the narrow Uffington Lane, and a further 6 secondary construction compounds and site access locations, creating concentrations of traffic, noise and disruption in those areas.
Battery storage safety
Mallard Pass did plan to build a massive battery storage facility opposite the existing sub-station, but have said they are now not doing so “at this time”, indicating they may bring it back on the agenda in a few months or years time, maybe via the ‘back door’. Assuming it will happen at some point the batteries will almost certainly be lithium-ion, which have a reputation for being unstable and very dangerous if they develop a fault.
These lithium-ion batteries are usually housed in large containers, stacked up to 13m high. Faults can occur due to mechanical damage, heat, internal short circuits and poor battery management. When a fault occurs it causes a chemical reaction which, unlike normal fires, do not need oxygen to burn and are therefore very difficult to put out. The only way to stop the reaction is to cool it with vast amounts of water, more than is ever likely to be available at the site. The chemical reaction caused when the batteries fail emits large amounts of toxic gas, mainly hydrogen fluoride, after which explosive gases are given off that can cause substantial explosions.
Safety regulations are still woefully inadequate as the system fails to catch up with the speed of battery storage introductions connected to large scale solar applications. Until there is better regulation to protect the potential toxic impact to the environment and residential areas, and better fire protection measures for safety teams, battery storage should not be introduced.
The chemical reaction caused when the batteries fail emits large amounts of toxic gas, mainly hydrogen fluoride, after which explosive gases are given off that can cause substantial explosions.