Site Assessment

Agricultural Land Classification 

The provisional Agricultural Land Classification map delineates the land as comprising Grade 2 land, as shown in the installation below. The site may comprise best and most versatile agricultural land. The Agricultural Land Classification maps are not accurate and therefore further site specific surveys will be done. 

Highways and Access

Access to the site will be an existing farm access track leading from the A41 at Grindley Brook. This is the main access point for the farmstead and is considered to be appropriate for agricultural vehicles and therefore HGVs. During construction / installation of the solar farm, there would be trips associated with the delivery of materials to site and arrivals and departures of construction staff. Construction material deliveries will mainly consist of small to medium HGVs while staff trips will mainly consist of vans. During construction / installation of the solar farm, the proposals would generate an insignificant number of traffic movements along the local highway. A Construction Management Plan will be submitted to manage traffic.

Flood Risk

The site is in flood zone 1, as confirmed by the Environment Agency.  Flood zone 1 has the least risk of flooding.

Cultural Heritage

In terms of heritage, there are no designated heritage assets are recorded within the site. There are however 31 Listed Buildings, a Registered Historic Park and Garden, and one Scheduled Monument located within a 1km radius of the site. 16 Grade II Listed Buildings are directly associated with the early 18th Century Grade II* Listed Century Country House and Grade II Registered designated landscape of Iscoyd Park, c.550m west of the site. The Grade II Listed Lock House lies c.780m north-east of the site; the other Listed Buildings are located in the western and southern parts of the study area. The Scheduled Monument comprises the moat of the (now-demolished) medieval manor of Wolvesacre Hall, located a short distance to the north of Iscoyd Park, c.310m west of the site.

 

The proposed solar PV development would be visible to varying degrees between Bubney Farm to the north, Bridleway 0234/92/1 to the east, the sewerage treatment works to the south, and woodland at Bubney Moor to the West. The proposed solar PV development would be physically and visually separated from the Special Landscape Area at Wolvesacre Hall, Iscoyd Park and Kiln Green to the west due to the extent of Woodland at Bubney Moor. Overall, the screening will result in a low temporary impact on the setting of the site.

Landscape and Visual Impact

In order to understand the potential visibility of the solar PV development, a Zone of Theoretical Visibility (ZTV) mapping terrain model has been provided. This provides an indication of the extent and pattern of visibility assuming a height of 15m for woodland and 8m for buildings. The ZTV does not account for individual hedgerows, minor changes in landform, or seasonal variations in leaf coverage. The ZTV model is therefore a ’worst case scenario’ based upon a maximum solar panel height of 3m above ground level. The actual extent and pattern visibility would be less than indicated on the enclosed ZTV.

In general terms, the proposed solar PV development would be visible to varying degrees between Bubney Farm to the north, Bridleway 0234/92/1 to the east, the sewerage treatment works to the south, and woodland at Bubney Moor to the west of the site. Close proximity views would be visible from the PROW crossing the site. Medium proximity views would be visible from Bubney Farm to the north, Canal Cottages to the east, and the Rising Sun Cottage near the sewerage treatment works to the south of the site. Long distance views would be limited although partially visible from public footpath 0234/88/1 following the farm track to Bubney Farm to the north east and limited points along Llangollen Canal towpath. These visual effects can be mitigation through provision of new native hedgerows or reinforcements along the site boundaries.

The site has been identified by a Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment as within an area considered to be of local value in the hierarchy of landscape designations or of low status in terms of the requirement for landscape protection as advised within paragraph 171 of the NPPF. As such, the site would not constitute a valued landscape with regards to Framework paragraph 170a. At the detailed design stage, the developer will prepare the mitigation strategy, and this will include, amongst other things, an appropriate planting strategy. 

Ecology and Biodiversity

There are no statutory environmental designations, as defined by the EIA regulations located within the site. At a local level, the site is surrounded by areas of high biodiversity value and connective corridors as defined by Shropshire Council. The site is located within the surroundings of the following environmental designations:

  • There are no designated heritage assets are recorded within the site. There are however 31 Listed Buildings, a Registered Historic Park and Garden, and one Scheduled Monument located within a 1km radius of the site.

  • Iscoyd Park comprising various Listed Buildings surrounding the Grade II* Listed Georgian country house;

  • A belt of Ancient Woodland separates the site from the historical park and garden.

The site is located within the surroundings of the following environmental designations to the west of the site:

  • Access Land at Bubney Moor and Hall Green;

  • Special Landscape Area (Policy ECA3) at Wolvesacre Hall, Iscoyd Park and Kiln Green;

  • Iscoyd Park Registered Park and Garden; and

  • Scheduled Monument, Grade II and II* Listed Buildings located near Wolvesacre Hall and Iscoyd Park.

  • The site is located within the surroundings of the following published Landscape Character Areas (LCAs):

  • Natural England, Shropshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire Plain (NCA 61); and

  • Shropshire Council, Principal Timbered Farmlands (LCT).

It is considered that no statutory designated areas for nature conservation values are close enough to be directly affected by the proposed development. Further detailed ecological assessments would be required assess the impact of the scheme in full but, with an appropriate layout design, any identified features within the site could be retained and the enhancement of boundaries within the site could provide an on site ecological mitigation to off-set any possible loss of habitat. In summary, it would not be expected that any impacts of greater than moderate-minor significance would be expected as a result of the proposal on any of the ecological receptors.