FAQs

Here you will find answers to frequently asked questions about the Green Hill Solar Farm project.

The initial sites proposed for Green Hill Solar Farm are located on land south and west of Wellingborough and north of Northampton in Northamptonshire. In May 2024 included additional land to the north-east of Warrington in Milton Keynes.

We are currently undertaking early land surveys and assessments to determine the proposed site layout and cable route. Further details, including an indicative site layout, will be made available ahead of our public consultation.

This land was previously identified as technically feasible for solar development as part of our initial site selection. However, we only entered into an agreement with the landowner to be able to include the proposed land within the scheme in May 2024.

The project would have a maximum power output of 500 MW (Megawatts), the equivalent to generating power for 115,000 homes once connected to the Grid.

Our National Grid generation capacity agreement has not changed, meaning we do not need to generate any more energy from the development by including more solar panels. With the additional land in Milton Keynes, we have greater flexibility over where the panels are located to minimise environmental impacts from the development.

The site comprises approximately 1,119 hectares (excluding the Cable Route Search Area). The sites are located within the administrative boundaries of West Northamptonshire Council, North Northamptonshire Council and Milton Keynes Council, consisting of eight separate sites.

National level – Net Zero and energy security

The UK has set ambitious climate change targets to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050 and to ensure that the energy supply remains secure, reliable, and affordable. Together with legally binding commitments such as these, the UK Government has further set out how the deployment of renewable technologies such as solar will be accelerated in the latest Powering Up Britain (April 2023).

This means increasing the UK’s solar capacity five-fold by 2035, taking the total generation capacity from 14 gigawatts (GW) today to around 70GW in the future. Green Hill Solar Farm would contribute towards achieving this by helping provide a reliable source of affordable energy.

Local level – North Northamptonshire Council

In July 2021, North Northamptonshire Council declared a Climate and Environment Emergency and a goal to become carbon neutral by 2030.  Renewable energy development has also been outlined as a long-term commitment in their 2022 Carbon Management Plan.

Local level – West Northamptonshire Council

In 2022, West Northamptonshire Council made a national pledge to beat climate change targets. The Council signed up to the UK100 Net Zero pledge, focusing on tackling the climate emergency and reducing carbon emissions. UK100’s Net Zero Pledge commits councils to cutting their own emissions to net zero by 2030 and those of their residents and businesses by 2045 – five years ahead of the UK Government’s 2050 target.

Green Hill Solar Farm could contribute to these commitments and allow both West Northamptonshire and North Northamptonshire to make a vital contribution to the UK’s net zero targets.

Local Level – Milton Keynes

In 2019 Milton Keynes Council’s three political groups agreed a climate emergency and the Council has since committed to the ambition of Milton Keynes becoming carbon neutral by 2030 and carbon negative by 2050. Milton Keynes Council’s Sustainability Strategy 2019 – 2050 is its long-term vision to create a world-leading sustainable city that embraces innovation, creates high-quality jobs and recognises it has a vital role in tackling the global challenges of climate change.

In order to meet our net zero and climate change targets, we need BESS to store surplus energy generated by renewables for when it is needed. National Grid estimates that over 35.5 GWh of BESS will be required to meet the UK’s net zero target by 2050.  The BESS proposed at Green Hill Solar Farm would provide storage for up to 500 MW of electricity.

In the Overarching National Policy Statement for Energy (EN-1), government’s emerging policy position is in favour of BESS and they have said: “Storage has a key role to play in achieving net zero and providing flexibility to the energy system, so that high volumes of low carbon power, heat and transport can be integrated.”

We do not currently have any intention to add further land to the scheme and have sufficient land available to meet our agreed National Grid generation capacity. Adding further land to the scheme would delay the project.

However, it is important that we continue to review our proposals at each stage of the project development as new information comes to light, including should any further suitable land come to our attention.

As a result of incorporating the new land, we are now aiming to submit our Environmental Impact Assessment scoping to the Planning Inspectorate in June 2024, hold our statutory consultation in late 2024 and submit a DCO application in early 2025.

If Green Hill Solar Farm secures planning permission, construction is expected to commence in 2027 with electricity being served to the grid from 2029.

The site is considered a ‘temporary’ development, meaning it would be decommissioned after a set period without any permanent land use change. The timeline for this decommissioning would be determined and published at a later date.

Solar farms require less significant infrastructure than other forms of energy generation, like power plants. This means they have less of an overall impact, but it also means they require less maintenance, creating fewer jobs.

However, there would still be some employment and supply chain opportunities, particularly during construction. We are committed to ensuring that these go to local contractors and employees wherever possible. The income generated from solar helps to diversify the long-term commercial viability of the existing business operations on the landholdings. As well as solar, the land will still be used for sheep grazing and other agricultural use of the land underneath and around the solar arrays. This means there will be a small number of direct full-time jobs created on-site through the agricultural diversification and on-site maintenance of the solar infrastructure. A more detailed assessment of the impact of the project on local jobs will be published in the socio-economic chapter of the Preliminary Environmental Information Report (PEIR), which will be available at our statutory consultation.

In addition, we are also voluntarily committing to providing benefit funding for local communities, to be paid for as part of the development. If you have any ideas or suggestions for the community fund, please let us know by getting in touch.

Click below to read about our approach to consultation.

Consultation

Understanding Solar Farms: Separating Myths from Facts