© Crown copyright and database rights 2015 Ordnance Survey 0100031673.

© Crown copyright and database rights 2015 Ordnance Survey 0100031673.

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Crow Orchard Solar Farm

Wigan, MSP Crow Orchard Limited

MS Crow Orchard Limited commissioned OPEN to undertake a Landscape and Visual Appraisal (LVA) to supplement a planning application to Wigan Metropolitan Borough Council in relation to a proposed ground mounted solar farm located at Crow Orchard Farm. In the Screening Report, the local planning authority recommended that a LVA of the photovoltaic panels should be undertaken, due to their size and associated infrastructure.

The Development is situated within an 8 ha site in a semi-rural area adjacent to road infrastructure and near the edge of a settlement. It consists of a series of Photo-voltaic (PV) panels, mounted in double rows approximately 2.5m above ground level, with a capacity of up to 5MW. The panels are spread across the site, orientated south alongside associated transformation enclosures and grid connection enclosures. Several nearby PRoWs are located near the site and one bisects the site along an existing field boundary.

Through a combination of desk based research, ZTV analysis, site visits and 3D modelling, OPEN assessed that most of the main effects of the Solar Farm were likely to be in the immediate surroundings of the proposed site due to the low lying nature of the site and the degree of natural screening from surrounding vegetation and landform features. 3D visualisations assisted in the prediction and illustration of effects and the design of mitigation planting proposals.

The site is situated across two large fields, and is sheltered to the north and east by a large engineered road embankment. Further road infrastructure includes the M6 motorway which passes to the west. Motorists in cars were found to be one of the main receptors, although there were also views from nearby settlement edge despite screening from tall roadside hedging. Mitigation planting followed guidelines in the Wigan Landscape Character Assessment to enhance and infill hedgerows. Mixed native hedgerows were proposed along the PRoW bisecting the site, enhancing the characteristic field boundary pattern.