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Frequently Asked Questions

We have derived a selection of the most frequently asked questions to help you gather a deeper understanding of what's involved in the development of a renewable energy project.

Solar energy

Solar farms typically operate for 25 to 40 years. After this period, the infrastructure can be removed, and the site can be restored to its original state.

A full Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment of the solar development will be prepared. The report will identify significant views, as well as areas to plant trees and hedges. This will help provide screening to the site, better integrating the development into the local landscape. Solar panels are also mounted low to the ground, so they are much less visible over distance than wind farms or nuclear power stations.

Solar panels are securely fixed in place on piled frames, minimising movement and reducing the need for frequent maintenance throughout their lifespan.

Yes, most solar panels can be recycled through government-regulated schemes like the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) initiative. This ensures proper collection, treatment, and recycling of solar components.

Any new development must now achieve an improvement to biodiversity over and above the existing situation. A new solar farm will include new grasslands, wildflower meadows and other habitat enhancements. The site will provide a protected area in which nature can thrive. The biodiversity will be managed by an approved Biodiversity Management Plan.

Security fencing and CCTV cameras are used to safeguard solar farms, with fencing options that blend with the natural surroundings to minimise visual impact.

Solar panels themselves produce no noise. Inverters and transformers can generate minimal noise, but they are usually placed away from residential properties to minimise disturbance.

Solar panel installation has minimal impact on surface water runoff, particularly where grass and vegetation are enhanced below and surrounding panels. The framework is piled directly into the ground, so there is minimal requirement to lay any concrete. A Flood Risk Assessment and Drainage Strategy will be prepared along with additional precautionary measures as part of the layout. This includes shallow swales to channel runoff and disperse via natural infiltration, evaporation, and uptake by vegetation

A Construction Traffic Management Plan will consider traffic routing and traffic volumes to minimise impacts on the local transport network during construction and operation. This will be agreed with the local Highways Authority, a statutory consultee, before construction. The construction phase typically lasts approximately 4-6 months.

Maintenance involves cleaning the panels, landscaping, and general upkeep. Visits are made throughout the year for routine checks, with minimal impact on local traffic due to standard vehicles used.

A heritage and archaeological assessment will be completed to evaluate the impact on heritage assets such as listed buildings, scheduled ancient monuments, battlefields and any potential remains of archaeological interest. Appropriate mitigation proposals will be submitted with the planning application.

When selecting a site for a solar project, several key criteria are considered to ensure the project's feasibility and minimise its impact on the environment:

• Environmental and Planning Designations: Sites are reviewed for statutory designations and potential environmental impacts. Sites near sensitive areas, such as nature reserves, protected habitats, or historical landmarks, are generally avoided.

• Flood Risk Assessment: Sites are assessed for flood risks. Projects are often placed in low-risk areas or equipped with drainage strategies to manage runoff and avoid worsening flooding elsewhere.

• Agricultural Land Quality: Projects typically use lower-quality agricultural land (Grades 3 and 4) to avoid impacting high-quality farmland. The ability to return the land to agricultural use after decommissioning is also considered.

• Proximity to Roads and Residential Areas: The site should be accessible for construction and maintenance while minimising visual and noise impacts on residential communities.

• Existing Screening and Topography: Natural barriers, such as hedgerows or trees, and landscape features can help visually integrate the development into the local environment.

• Proximity to Grid Connection: Sites located near substations or existing transmission lines simplify the connection process and reduce the project's footprint.

• Glint and Glare Analysis: Potential impacts on nearby properties, roads, or aviation routes are studied, and the site layout is adjusted to reduce glare where necessary.

• Footpaths and Rights of Way: Existing rights of way are preserved and incorporated into the design, with any temporary closures coordinated with local authorities.

Firstly, there’s the solar panels themselves. These are attached to metal frames fixed directly into the ground – we don’t use concrete for this, making everything more sustainable and easier for us to leave without a trace when we our lease is up. Panels are installed with a minimum 4m gap between rows, allowing enough space for vehicles to pass and livestock to graze. We’d also install a number of electrical devices, such as inverters and transformers – and even a private substation if needed.

Security and safety are also very important, so a 2m fence will be installed around the perimeter – deer fences are great for this as they allow smaller animals to come and go, and blend in with the countryside around them.

The electricity is fed straight into your local power grid, but in extremely rural areas with smaller populations, there may not be sufficient demand on the network to make it possible to install a Solar Farm on your land.

Not really. Much less than regular glass actually – and that’s one of the reasons they’re so efficient. A special coating maximises the amount of light that passes through, so hardly any energy is lost through reflective glare.

Very little actually. We’ll keep everything running smoothly with regular check-ups and any required maintenance – and cover all the costs.

We employ a specialist team of land managers to take care of any land where Solar Farms are installed. These experts might plant hedges, trees and meadows – avoiding pesticides where possible.

We can’t make solar panels without using energy, but they more than offset themselves within a year through the sustainable energy they create.

Our solar farms are screened from view as best we can, so neighbours usually won’t see them and property prices should be unaffected.

Depending on planning and the grid connection offer, this can range from 18 months to 24 months. Surprisingly, construction can be as little as 12 weeks.

Yes, absolutely. We are more than happy to collaborate with neighbours. Subject to viability.

Wind energy

The blades are large but the footprint of a wind turbine takes up very little space – less than 1% of the land area – this means the land can still be used for farming and tourism.

The blades usually turn at around 12 revolutions per minute – but this can change depending on the wind speed.

Depending on planning and the grid connection offer, this can range from 36 months to 72 months.

Yes, absolutely. We are more than happy to collaborate with neighbours. Subject to viability.

Wind turbine towers are made from steel and concrete. The blades are made from fibreglass, reinforced polyester or wood-epoxy.

Battery storage

The facility will enhance grid stability, support renewable energy adoption, and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. It also brings economic benefits by reducing the reliance on foreign energy imports, contributing to local business rates, and creating job opportunities.

Depending on the battery type, a BESS project typically operates for about 25 years.

When selecting a site for a battery energy storage facility, the following criteria are generally considered:

• Environmental Impact and Planning Designations: The site is assessed for its potential impact on local wildlife, flora, and sensitive habitats. Sites near areas with environmental protections or specific planning designations are often avoided.

• Proximity to Roads and Residential Areas: The site should be accessible for construction and maintenance purposes while being sufficiently distant from residential areas to limit potential noise impacts.

• Existing Screening and Topography: Natural or existing barriers that can help visually screen the facility are advantageous, while the site's topography determines optimal positioning for equipment.

• Proximity to Grid Connection: Sites are chosen near substations or transmission lines for easy grid connectivity with minimal environmental disruption. Where possible, we endeavour to lay cables underground to minimise visual impact.

• Use of Brownfield or Previously Developed Land: Preference is given to brownfield sites to minimise the impact on undeveloped or agricultural land and to make better use of previously impacted areas.

• Technical Feasibility and Economic Viability: Technical reports, such as noise and flood risk assessments, are conducted to determine if the site meets the required standards for operation and can be economically viable.

Green Switch Capital conducts ecological surveys to understand the site's flora and fauna. Appropriate measures will be implemented to protect and enhance biodiversity.

Security fencing will be installed around the site boundary for safety.

The development is not within a national or locally designated landscape. Battery projects generally feature low-profile structures, often resembling shipping containers.

Detailed on-site noise survey work will be undertaken to ensure levels meet guidance measures. This includes on-site and operational mitigation measures. Batteries are strategically placed away from residential areas to limit noise impacts, and additional noise-reduction measures will be implemented as needed.

A Flood Risk Assessment and Drainage Strategy will be prepared to identify any flood risks to the site and surrounding areas, and these will be addressed in the site layout.

A desktop study and high-level impact appraisal are carried out to ensure that there will be no impacts on heritage and archaeological assets.

A Transport Statement will address traffic routing and traffic volumes to minimise impacts on the local transport network during both the construction and operation phases. This plan will be coordinated with the local Highways Authority, a statutory consultee, before the commencement of construction.

The most common types of batteries used in energy storage are lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries.

Standard maintenance operations include a routine cleaning of the system, replacing worn or damaged components, and performing capacity tests on the batteries to ensure their continued efficient storage capabilities.

All our BESS projects adhere to strict fire safety standards in accordance with national planning policy guidance, including built-in fire suppression. A fire risk management plan would be prepared in consultation with regional fire and rescue services.

Battery energy storage works by charging the batteries when renewable energy generation is high and then discharging the stored energy when demand is high or renewable generation is low.

Yes. There are strict procedures and regulations in place, during their installation and entire lifetime, to ensure maximum safety at all times.

The most common types of batteries used in energy storage are lithium-ion and lead-acid batteries.

Battery energy storage allows for the efficient use of renewable energy by storing excess energy generated during peak production times for use during periods of low production or high demand. This can help to smooth out fluctuations in the grid and increase the overall penetration of renewable energy.

Wind energy

Wind projects aim to transition energy production from fossil fuels to renewable sources. They help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve energy security, and contribute to climate goals like reaching net-zero emissions.

Wind farms are usually operational for up to 40 years. After this period, the infrastructure can be decommissioned and removed.

Modern wind turbines are designed to minimise noise, and projects are strategically placed to ensure minimal impact on nearby residential areas. Noise assessments help identify and address potential concerns.

Wind projects contribute business rates to local councils and often establish community benefit funds to support local development. They can also offer local jobs and supply chain contracts during construction and maintenance.

At present, 150 to 200m to the top tip of the blades. The Hub would be 90m to 120m above the ground.

Very little ongoing maintenance. One visit per month for O&M checks on average with just vans/SUVs used.

Met Masts may be required depending on the site and data already available. They provide accurate, site-specific data on wind direction, strength, and consistency. Sometimes LiDAR can be used – this is a less invasive way of doing the same job and doesn’t require planning permission.

Internal and (possibly) external road/track access, levelling off the ground for the turbines/substations etc and digging/laying the foundations for the turbines, Laying of crane pads (for use during construction), DC Cabling, and Substation installation (both on our and DNO sides), HV cable connections.

Turbines are secured with locked doors etc to stop entry. Substations and any ancillary systems such as batteries will be protected with fences, CCTV etc as on other sites.

Most elements of the turbines (80%+) are now recyclable/reusable.

In most cases, we design around footpaths. However, if we can’t, we will re-route them in agreement with the local authority.

Developers conduct thorough ecological assessments to understand potential impacts on local wildlife and habitats. They implement mitigation measures to minimise disruption and often include biodiversity enhancement plans.

Landscape and visual impact assessments are conducted to minimise the project's visibility and ensure it blends with the natural surroundings. Developers consult local stakeholders to refine the design and reduce visual effects.

The selection of a site for a wind energy project is guided by several important considerations to ensure the feasibility, efficiency, and minimal environmental impact of the development:

• Wind Yield and Climate: The site must have consistent and strong wind speeds to generate sufficient electricity. A wind yield analysis determines how suitable the site is for wind energy production.

• Infrastructure Access: The site needs to be accessible for the construction and maintenance of wind turbines, ensuring safe transportation of materials and equipment. It should also be close to existing grid infrastructure for an efficient connection.

• Proximity to Residential Areas: Projects should be far enough from residential properties to minimise the impact of noise and shadow flicker, which is the flickering effect caused by rotating turbine blades.

• Environmental Impact: Comprehensive ecological surveys assess potential effects on wildlife, vegetation, and habitats. The site should avoid areas with significant ecological value and adhere to environmental regulations.

• Heritage and Archaeology: The site is evaluated for potential impacts on heritage assets, such as historical landmarks, archaeological sites, and culturally significant locations.

• Visual Impact: Landscape and visual impact assessments identify sensitive viewpoints and ensure the wind farm blends into the environment, minimising visibility from key locations.

• Aviation and Infrastructure: Consideration is given to any potential interference with aviation routes, radar systems, and other communication infrastructure like radio and TV signals.

• Topography and Ground Conditions: The terrain should support stable turbine foundations and be suitable for construction activities.