Who is Low Carbon?
Low Carbon is a leading, privately-owned UK investment and asset management company specialising in renewable energy. It was founded with the aim of having a lasting and positive impact on climate change. In practice, this means responsible and innovative investments into large-scale renewable energy projects, a commitment to protecting the earth’s natural resources, and dedication to creating a low-carbon future for all.
Low Carbon has facilitated the deployment of more than £600 million in capital into renewable energy infrastructure with more than 1GW already developed.
Our proprietary renewable energy pipeline currently stands at more than 5GW, ideally positioning us to capitalise on investment opportunities as the need for green power and energy security increases. To date Low Carbon investments are generating sufficient clean energy to power more than 427,000 homes and, since commissioning, have avoided more than 750,000 tonnes of CO2. *
Low Carbon enables the deployment of capital at scale into renewables, investing across the full life cycle from concept, through to development, construction and operation. We have been active in large-scale solar energy since forming in 2011. We are one of the largest asset managers of solar parks in Britain. Our website is located at www.lowcarbon.com
* Low Carbon internal calculations using OFGEM Typical Domestic Consumption Values and BEIS Carbon Conversion Factors
Why is Gate Burton Energy Park needed?
The UK is committed to reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050, in line with the Paris Agreement signed in 2015. This reduction in emissions will require a shift from fossil fuels to clean and renewable energy sources, including solar parks. COP26 in Glasgow further set out the need for accelerated action towards the necessary climate goals.
Gate Burton Energy Park is intended to provide utility scale clean energy to the national grid, making a significant contribution to achieving the net zero emission targets by 2050.
Locally, the Cottam coal-powered station was decommissioned in 2019. This further highlights the need to replace this lost fossil fuel-based generation with clean and sustainable alternatives.
Why has Low Carbon chosen this location at Gate Burton?
Low Carbon has identified land available in this area to deliver a utility-scale clean energy scheme. Many factors are considered by our specialists when evaluating appropriate areas for development. These include considering the locally available grid capacity as a result of Cottam and West Burton coal-fired power stations being decommissioned in recent years and various planning and environmental constraints.
What is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project?
Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) are major projects which require a type of consent known as a ‘development consent’. This process is governed by the Planning Act 2008, and development consent is granted in the form of a Development Consent Order (DCO).
The development consenting regime for NSIP projects comes under the Planning Act 2008. This requires that an application is submitted for a Development Consent Order (DCO) for the final scheme. This is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate which, in the case of energy-related development, acts on behalf of the Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The decision on whether to grant final consent for Gate Burton Energy Park will be made by the Secretary of State for BEIS.
What timescales is the project working to?
Low Carbon is provisionally aiming to submit an application for development consent in late 2022/early 2023 however, Gate Burton Energy Park is currently still at a very early stage of development.
A more detailed programme for the project is available via this project website
What will be included in the Energy Park?
Detailed designs for Gate Burton Energy Park are still at an early stage and are therefore subject to change. Provisional plans include arrays of solar panels, supporting electrical infrastructure, and battery storage units. The energy park will have a generation capacity of 500MW. Further information on the proposed design can be found via the project website
Solar PV and energy storage technologies are rapidly evolving. The parameters of the application we submit for development consent will therefore maintain flexibility to allow us to use the latest technology available at the time of construction.
In addition, an electrical connection will also form part of the design so that the Energy Park can be connected into the existing national electricity transmission system at National Grid’s Cottom substation in.
Where will the Energy Park connect to The National Grid?
Gate Burton Energy Park will ultimately connect to the National Grid substation at Cottam Power Station. During the consultation events with relevant stakeholders and local residents, we welcome any feedback relating to the grid route corridors and connection at Cottam Power Station.
How will you work with the local community?
Low Carbon will consult widely and effectively from an early stage in our project development process. We will always be open and transparent with information and about the decisions we make.
Our community engagement and consultation programme will start in October 2021. It will continue throughout the development of the project.
Low Carbon will be undertaking several stages of consultation and giving people the opportunity to express their views and provide feedback. This will include inviting suggestions on how Low Carbon can contribute to local initiatives and community-led schemes. All feedback will then be taken into consideration alongside findings from our technical studies as we shape the final proposals for our scheme.
Our first stage consultation, is now available for feedback, please find further details on our project website, please note the consultation is available between 11 Jan – 18 Feb 2022. There will be a further consultation in summer 2022 (exact date is TBC).
Are there any health risks associated with being in close proximity to solar panels and energy storage facilities?
Solar panel arrays do emit electric and magnetic fields (EMF) in the same extremely low frequency ranges as electrical appliances and wiring found in most houses and buildings.
The average daily background exposure to magnetic fields is estimated to be around one mG (milligauss – the unit used to measure magnetic field strength), but can vary considerably depending on a person’s exposure to EMF from household electrical devices and wiring.
The lowest exposure level that has been potentially associated with a health effect is three mG. Measurements at three commercial PV arrays in Massachusetts demonstrated that their contributions to off-site EMF exposures were low (less than 0.5 mG at the site boundary), which is consistent with the drop off of EMF strength based on distance from the source (2015, Clean Energy Results).
How long will Gate Burton Energy Park be in operation?
The operational life of Gate Burton Energy Park is intended to be 60 years, although this may be extended further. The condition of the equipment will be reviewed throughout the life of the project and at the end of its intended operational life to determine any continued operation.
Will there be noise and visual impacts from Gate Burton Energy Park?
As part of our ongoing work to determine the design of the project, we are undertaking surveys to ensure the levels of noise produced by the equipment onsite is within an acceptable range. Low Carbon will produce a full noise impact assessment as part of our application for development consent.
Similarly, studies are ongoing to ensure the visual impact of the Energy Park on the local landscape is minimised. This will include screening and the installation of other mitigation measures in the appropriate locations around the perimeter of the land available for the project.
If given consent, how long will it take to build Gate Burton Energy Park?
If granted a Development Consent Order, the earliest construction of the Energy Park will start is Q1 2025. It is anticipated the project will take between 2-3 years to build, with operation intended to commence around Q1 2027.
Will there be public access through Gate Burton Energy Park?
It is possible that public access may be included at certain points throughout the land available for the project. This is subject to health and safety compliance and landowner permission being granted. Public access issues will be considered as the project progresses and detailed design is refined.
We welcome any feedback local residents may have on potential options for public access through Gate Burton Energy Park.
Will Gate Burton Energy Park negatively affect local biodiversity?
Low Carbon is committed to enhancing the existing biodiversity within the boundary of the land available for the project. Surveys are still being undertaken by ecologists to determine the native species and habitats onsite.
Measures could include providing new habitats, connecting and enhancing existing habitats, new planting of hedgerows and woodland, seeding of wildflower and new grassland and the introduction of grazing.
Will Gate Burton Energy Park use land that could be used from growing crops for food production?
There is always a balance to be found when new development comes forward, with many factors and impacts to consider. Due to its proposed location, Gate Burton Energy Park will potentially utilise land that could be used for agricultural production. However, the land take involved is minimal in the context of food production across Lincolnshire and allows clean energy to be generated at greater scale and efficiency than rooftop alternatives.