Gate Burton Energy Park would comprise the installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and an on-site energy storage facility, plus infrastructure to connect the scheme into the national grid at Cottam substation so the electricity it generates can be made available to the UK’s homes and businesses.
If consented, the project is anticipated as having a generation capacity of around 500 megawatts (MW). This is equivalent to providing enough clean energy to power over 160,000 homes and avoid more than 100,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year.
Gate Burton Energy Park would be built on agricultural land wholly contained within the boundary of one site comprising approximately 684 hectares (1,690 acres). The site is located in the West Lindsey district of Lincolnshire approximately four kilometres (km) south of Gainsborough, near the communities of Gate Burton, Martin, Knaith Park and Willingham-by-Stow.
The electricity generated by the energy park is expected to be exported into the existing national electricity transmission system at National Grid’s 400kV Cottam substation. Cottam substation is located approximately four km to the southwest of the site in the Nottinghamshire district of Bassetlaw.
The project site
The application we submit to the Planning Inspectorate for the project – known as a Development Consent Order (DCO) – will comprise the solar energy storage park and the grid connection route to Cottam substation. Combined these are known as the ‘DCO site’.
The DCO site comprises an area of 1,436 hectares. The map below denotes the extent of the land required for the construction, operation, maintenance and decommissioning of the energy park and the grid connection into Cottam. Within the boundary of the DCO site there will be areas for mitigation and ecological improvements, buffer zones that maintain a respectful distance between equipment and infrastructure and existing homes, landscape, ecological and habitat features as well as public rights of way.
One of the key factors influencing the location of the project was the availability of the grid connection at Cottam substation with capacity to enable the electricity anticipated as being generated by the energy park to be fed into the grid.
Further to engagement with landowners who confirmed their willingness to enter into lease agreements the proposed energy park development site was identified as being suitable for a number of reasons:
- The site comprises large arable fields of regular shape
- There are no statutory landscape designations on the site or in the immediate surrounding area
- The site topography is gently undulating – making it technically suitable for solar development and maximising the efficiency of solar panels
- Existing hedgerows, tree belts, and woodland around and across the site mean it is well screened
- There are very few public rights of way running through the site (one in total)
- There are no ecological or heritage designations, scheduled monuments or listed buildings within the site
- The site is located almost entirely within Flood Zone 1 – which is defined as having a low risk of flooding
- There are only a small number of residential properties in proximity to the site and effective screening and landscaping could be employed to offset or mitigate any visual impacts
- The land is predominantly classified as Grade 3b (moderate quality agricultural land) with some Grade 3a (good quality agricultural)
Other solar projects in the area
Gate Burton Energy Park is a standalone project being progressed by Low Carbon, however from an early stage in our development process we have been aware of other large-scale solar NSIP projects coming forward in geographic proximity to our project.
Cottam substation is the proposed point of connection with the national grid for Gate Burton Energy Park and another potential solar farm in the area, Cottam Solar Project, which is being brought forward by Island Green Power.
Island Green Power is also developing proposals for West Burton Solar Project which is expected to connect into the national grid at West Burton substation located to the north of Cottam substation.
Given the proximity of Gate Burton Energy Park to the two Island Green Power solar projects, from an early stage in our development process we have sought to work collaboratively with Island Green Power in areas where we have common interests; looking at ways to maximise the opportunities for reducing the potential impacts of the project on the environment and communities and also lead to more efficient ways of working as the projects are developed.
As well as working to ensure local communities and residents are aware of the different solar projects, one significant area we have explored together with Island Green Power is the opportunity to combine the grid connection corridors into Cottam substation, resulting in the identification of a shared cable installation route.
Information on the outcome of this work can be found here.