BILLERICAY, ESSEX.

Crays Hall
Solar Farm.

the scheme.

Boom Power is proposing a new solar farm located to the East of Billericay, Essex, CM11 2UN. The proposed solar farm will cover an area of 92.6 acres (37.5 hectares) which will be operational for 40 years. Construction is anticipated to take approximately 9 months.

At a local level this scheme will support the Council’s strategic vision for rapid decarbonisation to build climate resilience. At a national level, the UK Governments energy security plan, Powering Up Britain (March, 2023), seeks to improve national energy security, create greater energy independence consistent with net zero and reduce the risk of higher electricity bills. 

Solar farms occupy a minuscule proportion of UK land. Even with the five-fold increase in solar power that the Government has predicted is needed to meet our legally binding net zero targets’ the independent advisory Climate Change Committee estimates that at most, solar farms would account for only 0.3% of UK land. This is less than the amount currently used for golf courses, and an absurdly small area to help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint, displace use of extortionate fossil fuels, cut electricity bills, benefit nature, and bolster the nation’s energy security.

megawatts of Low-Carbon
Electricity

Tonnes of
CO2 Prevented

Family Homes
Powered

Net Zero
Target

Fully
Reversible
Development

Additional Trees
& Hedgerows
Planted

Creation of
Wildlife
Habitats

Business Rates

All statistics shown are on an annual basis

LOCATION – why here?

HARVESTING ENERGY IN BALANCE WITH NATURE.

Tackling climate change requires unprecedented and urgent action. To thrive, the UK will need to support the growth of new sectors. The transition to powering our homes and businesses with low-cost, low-carbon electricity generated from renewable energy sources is an essential part of the UK’s climate change strategy and needs to be delivered at pace and scale.

Brownfield and rooftop solar schemes are rightly being developed however these schemes cannot deliver at the pace or scale required to meet net zero. Many brownfield sites are not available for development or may not be suitably located for connection of an electricity generation project into the high voltage electricity grid.

It will therefore need to be a mixture of projects on suitable and available brownfield, rooftop, and carefully selected and designed projects on greenfield sites, such as this scheme, that will be required to deliver the energy transition in the UK.

This site has been carefully selected as part of a detailed feasibility process. Consideration has been given to a number of factors including:

Detailed studies are being carried out by technical specialists to inform the final scheme design to respond to each of these points.

BENEFITS & DESIGN

DIVERSIFY FARMING.

This scheme will assist the Council’s ambition to deliver zero carbon emissions by 2030 whilst delivering a completely carbon neutral area by 2050 to align with local and national targets. This scheme will therefore contribute to the UK’s urgent need to transition to a sustainable, clean future.

We anticipate that construction of this scheme will take approximately 9 months. Local highway restrictions will be followed and a construction traffic management plan will be agreed with the local highway authority to ensure that our construction plans are appropriate.

Vegetation in and around operational solar farms has to be maintained to ensure the efficient generation of renewable energy, the most cost effective way of managing this vegetation is to periodically graze sheep around the solar modules. This has the added benefit of maintaining an agricultural use at the site and also offers an additional agricultural income stream for farmers during uncertain economic times. Supporting the natural landscape, we use existing access tracks where possible, design around existing trees and hedgerows whilst planting additional screening to support the rural aesthetic of the existing landscape. Therefore, whilst there is an initial change to the countryside, upon operation, this scheme will fast become a haven for wildlife. An assessment of the landscape and visual impacts will be undertaken by an external landscape architect to ensure our scheme protects the character and beauty of the countryside.

This is a temporary, fully reversible development. At the end of the solar farm’s life (40 years), equipment will be removed, and the field can return to its current condition. This explicitly means that the status of the land once decommissioned will not be classified as a brownfield site and will retain greenfield status, protecting the land from other forms of development. It is impossible to say if the same planning processes will be in place at the end of the project lifespan, however, under the current planning legislation, if anyone wants to build a new solar farm on the same land upon decommissioning, a new planning application will need to be submitted.

The proposed development will use bifacial solar modules which offer many advantages over traditional modules. Power can be produced from both sides of a bifacial module, increasing total energy generation. The general assumption is that the UK is not sunny enough to optimise solar and full, direct sunshine is necessary. However, these efficient modules have excellent weak light performance meaning more power output is seen in weak light conditions such as cloud, dawn and sunset. Therefore, solar can work exceptionally well in the UK, producing power all year round.

As with all manufactured products, some carbon is emitted in the manufacturing process, yet, the claim that solar modules produce more carbon than they save is false. The overall greenhouse gas emissions involved in solar energy is considerably lower than coal or natural gas. Research has shown that the average carbon payback period for solar modules is only one to four years. This means that over the total lifespan of the project (40 years) each individual module will generate zero carbon for decades after the carbon emitted in its production has been paid back. The additional trees and hedgerows planted to support the screening of the solar farm will also aid in actively removing carbon from the atmosphere, offsetting the creation of the manufacturing process in the first instance whilst providing a range of environmental and biodiversity benefits.

We as a company are committed to supplying the best possible solution when it comes to recycling. We use registered licensed specialists to recycle all components, from PV modules, solar inverters and transformers right down to the cabling.