© Crown copyright and database rights 2014. Ordnance Survey 0100031673.

© Crown copyright and database rights 2014. Ordnance Survey 0100031673.

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Crowsheath Solar Farm

Essex, MS Power Projects Ltd

OPEN was commissioned to undertake the Landscape and Visual Appraisal (LVA) of Crowsheath Solar Farm, in Billericay, Essex in July 2014. In the screening opinion, the local planning authority and Natural England highlighted the requirement for a LVA, although there was no requirement for a full EIA for the proposed solar farm development.

The Development is situated within an 18 ha site and 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 8MW. The panels are spread across the site alongside associated transformation enclosures and grid connection enclosures.

Through a combination of desk based research, site visits, ZTV analysis 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. 3D visualisations assisted in the prediction and illustration of effects and the design of mitigation planting proposals.

The site, set across a large south-east facing field has a fishery to the south-eastern corner. The remaining field slopes up from the fishery and is currently used for haylage. The mitigation planting will assist in enhancing the ecological and landscape value of the site through the creation of a mixed native hedgerow along a PRoW to the south as well as enhancing more formal planting elements around the fishery through the creation of a single species Hornbeam hedge along the south-eastern edge of the development.