May 17, 2024

Huge Tunnel to Power 10K Northampton Homes with Solar Energy

Plans have been revealed to supply 10,000 homes in Northampton with renewable energy through a 5.5-mile tunnel from a solar farm in a nearby village. The proposal involves installing an underground grid connection cable between the Glassthorpe Solar Farm and the Northampton West Substation.

Underground Cable for Power Transfer

There are plans to install an underground cable between the Glassthorpe Solar Farm, and the Northampton West Substation, which is located close to Countess Road in Dallington.

Under the leadership of EDF Renewables (EDFR), the project aims to facilitate the distribution of clean, renewable energy from the solar farm to the national grid.

In justifying the need for plan approval, EDF pointed to key climate change reports emphasizing the importance of transitioning to a low carbon economy, along with West Northants Council's pledge to achieve Net Zero across all council operations by 2030, extending this objective to residents and businesses by 2045. A decision on the project is expected by July 2

The Glassthorpe Solar Farm

Planning consent has been granted for the Glassthorpe solar farm by West Northamptonshire Council, following unanimous approval by the strategic planning committee. Situated between the villages of Flore and Upper Heyford along the M1 Corridor, this 49.9 MW solar farm received approval after consultation with the local community, addressing concerns about climate change and energy security.

According to a spokesperson from EDF, the proposed development is projected to power approximately 9,787 UK households annually and is expected to significantly decrease carbon dioxide emissions by an estimated 21,408 tonnes per year, as detailed in planning documents.

The project also promises substantial local benefits beyond energy production, including an annual community fund of £20,000 for the duration of the project's 40-year lifespan.

Darren Cuming, Head of Development at EDF Renewables UK, highlighted the site's suitability for solar energy, citing its sunny disposition and effective screening. As part of their commitment to biodiversity enhancement, the project includes plans for planting 1.3 km of new hedgerow, along with tree planting and the establishment of new wildflower meadows.

Looking ahead, EDF Renewables UK aims to commence site preparation later in the year, with construction expected to span approximately six months. The solar farm will connect to the grid 8 km east of the site at Northampton West substation, with full operational status targeted by the end of 2024. The company emphasizes its desire to engage with the local community in the next phases of development, including discussions on the utilization of the annual community fund once the project is operational.

The Construction Plan

Regarding the construction timeline, the underground grid connection is projected to take approximately six months to complete. Construction activities would be confined to the hours of 7 am to 7 pm on weekdays and 7 am to 1 pm on Saturdays, with no work scheduled for weekends or Bank Holidays.

According to the outlined plans, the proposed underground grid connection route spanning nine kilometres will stretch from the Glassthorpe Solar Farm in an eastward direction to Glassthorpe Lane in Harpole, traversing several agricultural fields along the way. Subsequently, it will follow Glassthorpe Lane before merging with the A4500 and then diverting onto Bruce Street in St. James, situated opposite Franklin's Gardens.

Continuing, the route will cross the A428 Harlestone Road, proceeding north towards Vicarage Road, with a brief detour northward onto Baring Road and Darlington Road. It will then turn eastward at Tintern Avenue before heading south into the Northampton West Substation compound.

Construction traffic will be directed south from Glassthorpe Hill Farm, utilizing an access track to cross the M1 and A45, eventually reaching Upper Heyford. From there, it will proceed eastward along Main Road, connecting to the A4500 and entering Northampton.

The plan to power 10,000 Northampton homes with renewable energy through a 5.5-mile tunnel from a nearby solar farm, spearheaded by EDF Renewables, represents a significant stride towards sustainable energy distribution and community engagement.

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