Proposals have been put forward for a solar and green infrastructure facility that could power up to 18,500 homes in a planning application submitted to East Devon District Council. Community consultations, begun in Autumn 2021, are continuing and are being led by the charity Devon Communities Together.
The proposals can be read on www.fordoakssolarnature.co.uk and comprise:
- 45 hectares of green infrastructure improvements, in line with the Devon Green Infrastructure Strategy.
- Delivery of 121% biodiversity net gain, achieved through creating grasslands habitats with species-rich seed mixes, Devon traditional meadows, a mosaic of wetland habitats, and beetle and butterfly banks.
- Flood mitigation, with new leaky dams and scrapes designed into the scheme to keep surface waters in the fields to reduce flows both onto local lanes and downstream under the A30.
- 29 hectares of solar arrays designed to permit extensive sheep grazing.
The Ford Oaks Solar & Green Infrastructure Facility, located next to the A30 close to Exeter Airport and Marsh Green village – around four miles east of Exeter city centre, is a solar development that would provide renewable energy that will help to deliver East Devon District Council’s target for being net zero by 2040 and meet Devon County Council’s net zero target for 2050 after having declared a climate emergency in 2019.
It will be the first solar development in the UK to apply for the Building with Nature Accreditation. In practice, this will lead to the delivery of approximately 45 hectares of green infrastructure improvements that would increase wildlife in the valley and reduce existing flooding issues. The plans will result in a biodiversity net gain of 121% across the site.
Ford Oaks is being promoted by Taiyo Power & Storage, a joint venture between Kajima and Low Carbon Alliance Limited in partnership with local landowners, including Devon County Council. Launched last year, Taiyo is putting forward proposals for a number of solar and battery storage sites across the UK in order to support the UK Government’s commitment for the country to be net zero carbon by 2050.
Following Kajima’s social values themes of people, places and planet, Ford Oaks is working with the charity Devon Communities Together to determine what the local community needs post-Covid-19. This will help to identify local residents’ social, community and environmental priorities for improving their area.
By providing a renewable energy source that will export 30MW of power to local electricity circuits and power 18,500 homes, 7,430 tonnes of CO2 emissions will be saved – the equivalent of taking 1,600 petrol cars off Devon’s roads for one year.
This will be a secure energy source for residents in the Exeter and East Devon area, while positively contributing towards the climate emergency by aligning with Devon County Green Infrastructure Strategy, the Devon Climate Declaration and government targets to increase solar power capacity to 50GW by 2030.
“If we are to truly make East Devon a greener district, we must go beyond renewable energy provision to also enhance the local area’s biodiversity.”Taiyo Director, Simon Crowe
“Ford Oaks will be a fantastic opportunity for East Devon to progress its ambitious climate strategy. At a local level, we are providing a renewable energy source for 18,500 homes for the area. At a national level, we need five times as much renewable energy as we are currently producing if we are to be net zero by 2050. Ford Oaks marks an important first step in Taiyo’s journey in supporting the UK’s commitment.
“If we are to truly make East Devon a greener district, we must go beyond renewable energy provision to also enhance the local area’s biodiversity. That’s why we are excited to make this the UK’s first solar park to apply for the Building with Nature accreditation, with vast amounts of biodiversity and nature improvements to the local area.”