Pathfinder Clean Energy (PACE) is a UK company with a successful track record of developing solar projects across the UK. We have a vision, to develop solar energy projects that meet the UK’s rapidly growing need for clean electricity, while working with local communities to maximise positive local impacts for wildlife and for people. We are committed to that vision, and have a team including ecologists, landscape and heritage specialists, who help ensure our proposals can deliver long term benefits.
The UK urgently needs to become more self-sufficient in energy, to reduce reliance on fossil fuel supplies from other nations, and to take action to address rising energy bills. The UK Government has set targets to make the country self-sufficient in energy, and solar projects of all sizes will play a crucial role in achieving that goal.
Solar is the cheapest form of energy generation, and solar projects can be built far more quickly than other technologies, meaning they can have a far more immediate positive impact upon the environment and security of supply. As a result, the Government’s energy security strategy calls for an additional 56GW of solar electricity generation to be up and running by 2035. This will be a significant national challenge, and addressing the critical need to deliver clean, efficient and affordable electricity, will require numerous projects like Tophams Solar to be delivered around the country in the months and years to come.
North Hertfordshire has rightly declared a climate emergency and set ambitious targets to become net zero by 2030. Tophams Solar can make a significant contribution to these goals and will support the transition to a clean, sustainable, low carbon future. It will provide enough power for over 15,700 homes, enough to power the equivalent of Bygrave, Ashwell, Baldock and three quarters of Letchworth Garden City, and displace 11,300 tonnes of CO2 every year – equivalent to removing the emissions from 2,450 family cars.
Following consultation with the local community and a variety of stakeholders, including bodies such as Historic England, we have now submitted a planning application to North Hertfordshire District Council.
Tophams Solar will have a capacity of 40MW, generating approximately 48.9GWh of clean, renewable energy each year, which will be supplied to nearby homes and businesses via a connection to the local electricity grid.
We have listened to the feedback from the local community and stakeholders to understand ways that we can enhance the benefits that Tophams Solar would bring, and to reduce any negative impacts. A summary of the changes made from our initial proposals is included below:
We have worked very hard to identify, minimise and eliminate all impacts of Tophams Solar wherever possible. However, we recognise and appreciate that it is impossible and unrealistic to completely remove the visual impact.
Nevertheless, we have taken a number of measures to reduce the visual impact as far as possible, as detailed and shown below in our photomontages.
1. We have positioned the solar panels 5-9m lower in elevation than existing properties, and will follow the contours of the land to reduce the impact on properties in Bygrave
2. Several rows of solar panels have been removed from the south eastern corner of the site, adjacent to Ashwell Road
3. We re-sited the battery storage within the site to reduce visual impact
4. New hedgerows will be planted along the eastern edge of the site to reduce visibility from Ashwell Road
5. The style of site fencing has been changed to be more in keeping with the surrounding area
Below are a selection of computer generated images prepared by PACE to illustrate what the solar farm will look like. Use the slider below to see a recent photograph before (left) and expected view after development (right).
Viewpoint Location 1 - View from existing Public Right of Way (looking north-east)
In response to feedback from the local community, we have amended the route that construction traffic would use to access the site. We are now proposing to route vehicles through Bygrave from the south, as shown here.
The construction period will last approximately 20-30 weeks, with most deliveries taking place within the first six weeks.
Once operational, Tophams Solar will generate a minimal level of traffic.