Huge 125-acre solar farm could be built in Herefordshire

NINE fields near a Herefordshire village could soon be a huge 125-acre solar farm with the potential to provide electricity to more than 14,000 homes.

Ersun (Westhide SPV) Ltd has revealed its plans for the solar farm, which would be five miles from Hereford near Westhide.

An application for an environmental impact assessment screening has been submitted by the firm, based in Cheshire, for the nine fields at Westhide Estate, east of Hereford.

In a statement to planners, consultants said the fields are bound by hedges and woodlands, and that would remain the same should full planning permission be granted in the future.

The proposed development includes ground-mounted solar panels, potential energy storage system, associated infrastructure, security fencing, CCTV, cable route and landscaping for a period of 30 years.

Hereford Times: Plans have revealed some of the details of a proposed new solar farm in Westhide, near Hereford. The proposed site is outlined in red. Picture: Google Plans have revealed some of the details of a proposed new solar farm in Westhide, near Hereford. The proposed site is outlined in red. Picture: Google

The rows of panels, each spaced between three and five metres apart, would face south and have a maximum height of three metres, the statement said.

No underground concrete would be required for the panels, as they would be mounted with galvanised steel. Concrete would be required for central inverters, substation buildings, welfare unit and spares container.

OTHER NEWS:

A 2.5-metre fence would be put up around the perimeter of the site to provide security, and security cameras would be installed, it added, and the poles for them would be three metres high.

One access point has been identified by consultants, via Withies Road, to the south of the site for the construction and operation phases.

Hereford Times: The location of the proposed site as seen from road to Westhide, adjacent to Ashgrove, look north-east. Picture: The Landmark Practice/Herefordshire Council The location of the proposed site as seen from road to Westhide, adjacent to Ashgrove, look north-east. Picture: The Landmark Practice/Herefordshire Council

Cables associated with the development would be concealed in trenches, but consultants said it would have “minimal impact” on the ground surface and would be fully removable at the decommissioning stage.

The framing system, solar panels, inverters, substations and fencing would also be removed at that time.

An ecological study found low diversity of common and widespread plant species, with the land currently used for farming.

OTHER NEWS:

There were areas of greater diversity and biodiversity value around the site’s boundaries, but no “notable plant species were identified”, the report said.

While there was potential for a variety of habitats for protected and notable species at the site, opportunities were limited.

As well as the plans on the Herefordshire Council website, the firm has set up a website with more information.

Hereford Times: The location of the proposed site as seen from road to Westhide, adjacent to Ashgrove, look north-east. Picture: The Landmark Practice/Herefordshire Council The location of the proposed site as seen from road to Westhide, adjacent to Ashgrove, look north-east. Picture: The Landmark Practice/Herefordshire Council

It says more than 14,000 homes could be powered by the site – equivalent to more than 40 per cent of the number of households in the Hereford locality, and offsetting around 9,700 tonnes of CO2 annually.

“Sustainability is at the core of how the Westhide Estate is managed, both environmentally and financially,” the site added.

“Regeneration and ecological enhancement have been the two key driving forces of how the estate has been run over the past two decades.

“A solar power scheme on estate land fits within and supports the long-term sustainability strategy of the estate.”

Residents will be able to comment on the full planning application, if and when one is submitted to Herefordshire Council.

Hereford Times