Oulton Parish Council
The summary below is from the open, public part of the Parish Council meeting held on Thursday 9th July.
Mr Ed Perrin of Solarcentury confirmed that since the public meeting in May 2015, the approach for the development of the site had changed. Rather than one 10MW development, a decision had been made to split it into two 5MW phases. Whilst the application is for the whole site, there was a great deal of uncertainty over when the second phase would be developed. He anticipated that should the Planning Application be agreed, it would be valid for 3 years and the site would have to be completed by then. He was asked if there was a fixed contract for the generated power and replied that there was. He confirmed that there would be a financial bond put in place to ensure funds were built up to decommission the site after 25 years. This bond would be subject to periodic independent checks to ensure that it would be sufficient. He expected that there would be a planning condition that the site is removed after 25 years and there would be no option for an extension for more than the 25 years.
He was asked about the arrangements for disposal bearing in mind the panels are hazardous waste. He replied that as yet there were no disposal arrangements as no site had so far reached the end of its life.
He confirmed that the two phases could result in split ownership as there would be 2 substations for the site but one single grid connection. As to ownership of the second phase it could be owned by a community group although there was a very loose definition as to what this term meant and not a great deal of information. In theory it could be a Parish Council, an investor or a commercial organisation.
During questions on the suitability of the agricultural land, Mr Michael Harrold pointed out that the land which was Grade 3B had been used for pigs for a considerable period of time and was now ‘pig sick’ and needed to be rested or otherwise used.
Mr Perrin confirmed that within the legal agreement with Mr Harrold there was an option to use the land around the panels for grazing sheep but this will not be a Planning Condition. The use of the site for this would depend on commercial farming factors and the need to ensure there is no risk of disease spread with the pig farming on the airfield at present. A suitable species of grass would be sown for grazing and there would be wildflowers on the margins. The seed mixture would include clover and indigenous wildflowers to benefit bumble bees. There would also be mammal gates to let mammals out but not into the site.
For each phase, the construction period would be around 8 weeks and traffic would be routed along the Holt Road. There would be a Section 106 agreement in place to ensure the remainder of The Street was not used. Once built there would be routine maintenance periodically without major traffic movements. All construction deliveries would be by standard sized trucks with no significant issues identified with the existing access.