Projects

Lord Bridges Solar Farm

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Planning Approved for a Major Solar Farm in the Cambridge Green Belt

Planning approval was granted for a major new solar farm on land south east of the Lords Bridge Radio Telescope Observatory, Barton (Planning Ref 22/00051/FUL). The solar farm will serve Cambridge University and help meet the university’s energy needs. The solar farm occupies a 36.6ha site adjacent to the observatory. The new facility once operational will make a significant contribution to the University’s commitment to reducing its emissions from fossil fuel consumption. The new solar farm could generate 30,457 megawatt hours (MWh) per annum, which would equate to 26% of the university’s 2019 electricity consumption.

Planning approval was granted in August 2023. Due to the scale of the proposal the application was referred to the Secretary of State but was not called in.

CSA’s involvement in the project began in 2021 when we were approached to provide landscape and visual and Green Belt advice to support the proposal. CSA prepared an LVIA as part of the application documents together with a supporting landscape strategy which demonstrated how mitigation measures and environmental improvements could be incorporated into the scheme. CSA’s landscape architects also worked with Landscape Officer’s at South Cambs District Council to development the scheme and to offset concerns relating to the potential impacts of the proposal. As part of the supporting information CSA prepared verified visualisations showing the proposed solar development in keys views from the surrounding area.

Key features of the landscape strategy included:

  • Using the existing landscape framework to settle the development into the landscape, retaining boundary vegetation where practical, avoiding tree and hedgerow losses by using existing field entrances & gates and managing existing woodland.
  • Protecting watercourses and bordering grassland vegetation, for the wildlife that depends on them including water voles and barn owls.
  • Hedgerow and thicket planting, using native species to fill gaps, provide screening and create biodiversity corridors.
  • Wildflower meadow planting, shade tolerant grasses mixed with high percentage wildflowers under the solar panels and field margins to boost biodiversity.

Further details on our landscape services can be found here.