FAQs

Solar

We consider many key drivers when planning a solar farm, including the following:

  • Proximity to a grid connection point
  • No environmental, planning policy or heritage constraints.
  • A local planning authority that is supportive of Renewable Energy Projects.
  • Access from a public highway.

There is a legal requirement that the land is returned to its original condition at the end of our lease and money is set aside to ensure this can happen. Our panels are mounted on pile driven frames that cause minimum disturbance to the land and can be easily removed.

Like any other electrical waste, solar panels need to be disposed of responsibly.
In Europe over 70% of PV manufacturers take part in a global PV CYCLE Network that helps producers meet the legal obligations of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive legislation. As members of this initiative, producers are actively engaged in the sustainability of their product during manufacturing and throughout its lifespan. Components of the panels are broken down and recycled, not just disposed of. 

Natural habitat is a key focus for us, and we have partnered with the RSPB to make sure we get it right. As well as reinforcing existing hedgerows and planting new ones, we plant trees, sow native grass and flower mixes and manage the field margins to provide habitat for pollinators and small birds and mammals. Amphibian habitat is retained and protected in existing hedges, ditches and ponds, and cuttings from around the site are used to make habitat piles for the benefit of invertebrates, small mammals and reptiles. Where there are local populations of barn owls we provide opportunities for them to nest onsite. Whilst the deer fencing is designed to keep deer away from the electrical equipment (for their safety and to prevent damage), roe deer are commonly found ‘inside the fence’ on solar farms and are quite content. The fencing has a 15cm gap at the base to allow small animals such as hedgehogs to pass under, and regular mammal gates for larger animals to enter and leave the site.

Footpaths and bridleways are a key countryside asset for many users in the local community. We protect and enhance them with extended and improved hedges so they can continue to be enjoyed. Behind these hedges is a 5m gap before we have our fence, and our solar panels are then a further 4m inside this fence. So the solar panels are about 9-10m from the path itself.
Solar panels are designed to absorb as much light as possible and not to reflect it, however sometimes glint can be produced as a direct reflection of the sun from the surface of the solar PV panel, and glare can occur as a source of bright light. Glint and glare needs to be managed – we do that by carrying out assessments at the site and designing sites so any impact is low.
There is some noise generated on site during the construction stage – from the construction traffic and from fixing the frame that supports the solar panels into the ground. Once built, there is no or low level noise from the site – it’s not usually something you can hear from the edge of the site.
They produce power from daylight so can work even when the weather is overcast.
Ecology is of utmost concern to us, so screening consists of hedges and trees. We agree that these can be slow growing, but there are solutions that we can build in to our planting plan. There are options such as ‘double screening’ while the hedges are growing, where we could plant fast growing high crops in adjacent fields, or to build a temporary earth bank planted with a bee friendly plant such as broom.
Our sites are maintained and operated by The Bluefield Group. There is a planning obligation from the Local Planning Authority to maintain the hedges to the height specified in the plans.

Alongside solar panels, there will be:

  • Inverters (the size of a small storage container). These are placed away from site boundaries, so cannot be seen or heard by passersby.
  • A transformer substation with battery storage, connecting the solar farm to the grid.
  • Inward facing infra-red CCTV.
  • Paths between panels for maintenance access.
The construction period is generally 4-6 months. We try to avoid the winter months, which reduces the need for artificial lighting and has less construction traffic impact. We submit a noise assessments as part of our planning application. The first few weeks are the most noisy, then it is much quieter in the latter half of the construction period. We cannot pretend that it is quiet, but we do keep disruption to a minimum. We design our sites so that construction traffic shouldn’t need to reverse – this reduces any beeping from lorries.
Where possible we publish surveys and reports on our website. We do not always have them ready in time for our community consultations, because we like to engage with the community early in the planning process – this allows the communities we join to have some input in to our final design. All surveys and reports are accessible to the public for scrutiny once the planning application has been submitted, and even at that late stage we remain flexible. We want to be transparent – get in touch if there is a particular aspect of our plan that you would like further information on.
Solar farms are not known to pose any significant health dangers to their neighbours. Unlike fossil fuels they do not release emissions into the atmosphere so there is no impact from emissions on human health. Replacing fossil fuel power stations with renewable energy alternatives like solar and wind farms means there will be less emissions from fossil fuels in the atmosphere in the longer term – good for human health and the health of the planet.

All electrical and electronic devices create electromagnetic fields or EMF around them when used and also emit electromagnetic radiation or EMR.  This includes solar panels and solar inverters as well as most electrical devices in our homes – televisions, radios, fridges and mobile phones. It’s the level and type of EMR that is important. EMR from solar panels and solar inverters is non-ionizing and is well within national health based guidelines. Refer to the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation (ICNIRP) for more details about EMF and EMR in our daily lives www.icnirp.org.

Bluefield Solar Income Fund’s principal business is to own and manage solar farms. They instruct Lightrock Power as a greenfield developer to plan and develop sites for them. They instruct us, and we act based on their requirements. They are the long term owner-operator but they don’t have the early stage technical expertise that we do.
There are no operational solar farms under Lightrock/Bluefield partnership yet. Lightrock Power was created to utilise our development expertise in the US market and between them the directors (Ben and Chris) have 10+ operational solar farms in the UK under different developers. There are currently nine Lightrock/Bluefield sites at various stages of active planning.
The Climate Change Act 2008 introduced the UK’s first legally binding target for 2050 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 80% compared to 1990 levels. Between 1990 and 2017, the UK reduced its emissions by 42% while growing the economy by more than two thirds. On 27 June 2019 the UK government amended the Climate Change Act recognising the need to go further, and set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions from across the UK economy by 2050. Their aim: to set a world-leading target that will bring to an end the UK’s contribution to climate change.
The temperature of the planet responds slowly to cutting greenhouse gas emissions. The planet will only stop warming when we reach ‘net zero’ carbon dioxide emissions. Achieving net-zero means reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to a much lower level than today – and balancing the remaining emissions by reabsorbing the same amount from the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases can be absorbed by growing trees and plants, as well as through technological processes that can remove carbon dioxide from the air, but have not yet been used at large-scale. Reducing global greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and emitting as little as possible on the way to ‘net-zero’ will also help minimise further changes in the climate. 
We generally plant trees and hedgerows, unless our ecologists advise selected thinning. In the unlikely event a hedgerow needs to be disturbed for access, we always ensure reinstatement and reinforcement.
The benefits of reduced CO2 from generating electricity by solar panels outweighs the CO2 released from their manufacture within 2-5 years. Once the transportation, construction, operation, decommissioning and recycling is accounted for in a Life Cycle Analysis, it is estimated that a solar farm in the UK pays back the embodied energy in 10-15 years. This is sometimes called the ‘carbon payback’ time. Solar panels are predominantly made of materials that are widely recycled. The PV Cycle scheme’s purpose is to establish the recycling infrastructure now for recycling solar panels at the end of their lifetime. 
Bluefield will be working with its developers, EPCs and manufacturers to ensure that our supply chains are not associated with forced labour issues. Bluefield Partners LLP have signed the Solar Energy UK statement relating to the development of a supply chain transparency protocol and the Bluefield Solar Income Fund has a zero tolerance approach to slavery and human trafficking.
We would much rather put solar panels on brownfield sites or roofs. Planning regulations mean that brownfield sites are almost always earmarked for housing and unfortunately most commercial industrial buildings do not have the structural integrity to handle panels.
No. One of the great things is that renewables can now be cheaper than other forms of generation without subsidy.
Panels are mounted on a frame which is fixed to the ground with a driven C-shaped pile.

Storage

BESS stands for Battery Energy Storage System. Its role is to provide electrical energy storage as part on the UK’s strategy to decarbonise the grid, and to safeguard our local energy supply.

BESS’s import electrical power during periods of oversupply from renewable generators, which would otherwise be wasted. This power is, subsequently, exported back to the grid during periods of low renewable generation, offsetting the need for fossil fuels.

Yes, the BESS technology that we use is modern, and extremely safe. We build to the latest guidelines, and consult with fire services throughout the planning process.

All units are fully containerised and contain individual fire suppression systems.

We always complete a full noise assessment, the results of which are available for comment once planning applications have been submitted.

We do not expect any noise to exceed background levels, which means that they are not audible.

BESS sites are quick to install as they are comprised of prefabricated units, which are built off site. This means we expect a whole site to take approximately 16 weeks to build from beginning to end.

Our planning applications are usually for a maximum of 40 years. After this the units will be recycled and the land would be reverted to its previous use.

No, our projects come subsidy free. Although they are paid for privately, the benefits are for the British public.

BESS sites need to be close to a substation. 

Every substation will require a BESS as the electricity network modernises over the coming years.

No. We submit full flood and drainage strategies with our planning applications, but we do not expect our developments to have any affect on local flood risk.

The majority of our sites will be owned and operated by Bluefield.

Planning permission is granted to the site regardless of who owns or operates it. So any planning conditions that have been agreed by Lightrock Power will be upheld by Bluefield.

Lighrock Power take ecology seriously. We have partnerships with both the RSPB and Buglife, who advise us on how to achieve the biggest biodiversity net gain.

We also work with other wildlife organisations where relevant, such as the Wildlife Trusts and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust.