Introduction

On 2nd October 2023, Ridge Clean Energy received planning permission for the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park, consisting of a solar farm and battery energy storage system, on land to the south west of Ruddington Village, Nottinghamshire.

The progress of the project will be updated on this website, posting news on:

  • The Project
  • Project Timeline
  • Consultation
  • Community Partnership

You can contact the project team here with comments, questions or ideas.

  View Site Boundary
Ridge Clean Energy

Project Outline

  • The project would be located on privately owned arable land approximately 1.3km south west of Ruddington Village.
  • The project could generate up to 49.9MW of solar photovoltaic electricity.
  • The project could host up to 49.9MW of BESS (Battery Energy Storage System).
  • It is currently estimated that the solar farm will generate the equivalent electricity needs of approximately 11,200 Nottinghamshire homes (based on average domestic consumption per household of 3900kWh p.a., DBEIS 2020).
  • From the displacement of electricity generated from fossil fuel powered generation, the proposed development would offset the emissions of a significant quantity of pollutants. This reduction in emissions would contribute to the national legislation of net zero emissions by 2050, as well as the climate emergency declared by Rushcliffe Borough Council and Nottinghamshire County Council.
  • The project would result in a 75% net gain in habitat, through new through new ecological and enhanced planting measures, including beehives.
  • Once the renewable energy park is operating, funding will be made available to the local community to help fund community initiatives.

Access, Infrastructure & Surveys

Infrastructure

A range of infrastructure will be required as part of the new renewable energy park, which will include ground-mounted solar panels, inverters, a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), transformer units, switch gear and substation, and temporary construction compounds.

Surveys

Our proposals and designs for the site were guided by data gathered during surveys, information provided by the community, technical assessments, and by advice provided by independent environmental consultants. Surveys began in September 2021 and will continued through 2022. The technical assessment reports have been provided as part of our planning application.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)

Ridge Clean Energy took the decision in early 2022 to ‘volunteer’ an EIA for our application. An Environmental Statement was submitted as part of a suite of submission documents to assist Rushcliffe Borough Council to determine the application.

Solar Generation

49.9MW

Battery Storage

49.9MW

Homes Powered

Equivalent amount of power as is used by 11,200 homes

  Project Timeline

September 2021 - Commencement of Surveys

In September 2021 we started our ecology survey work.

Ridge Clean Energy - Project Timeline Ridge Clean Energy - Project Timeline

November 2021 - Presentation of Ruddington Parish Council

In November 2021 we presented our initial site concept to Ruddington Parish Council. This was a great opportunity to get a better understanding of the local community.

Ridge Clean Energy - Project Timeline Ridge Clean Energy - Project Timeline

March 2022 - Two Public Exhibitions Held

On the 22nd and 25th of March, we hosted two public exhibitions at St. Peter’s Rooms, Ruddington Village.

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February 2023 - Planning Application Submission

We submitted the application for planning permission in early 2023.

Ridge Clean Energy - Project Timeline Ridge Clean Energy - Project Timeline

October 2023 - Planning Determination

On 2nd October 2023 we received planning permission from Rushcliffe Borough Council.

Ridge Clean Energy - Project Timeline Ridge Clean Energy - Project Timeline

Consultation

On 2nd October 2023, Ridge Clean Energy received planning permission for the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park, consisting of a solar farm and battery energy storage system, on land to the south west of Ruddington Village, Nottinghamshire.

We will continue to update this website as the project progresses further.

Ridge Clean Energy

  Project Documents

The application documents that were submitted to Rushcliffe Borough Council can be viewed below.

Public Exhibition Posters

Ridge Clean Energy have hosted two public exhibition in March 2022, both in the Village of Ruddington. The posters on display at these exhibitions can be viewed below.

What We Do

Successful projects require alignment of interests amongst landowners, communities, policy makers, and businesses.

The Ridge team works hard to understand interests and build enduring partnerships.

Ridge Clean Energy

  Community Partnerships

As part of our ongoing work on the proposed Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park, we have been liaising with residents, transport charities, community groups and amazing volunteers.

We have supported local businesses such as the Old Bakehouse Tearoom during our public exhibitions and sponsored the children’s activities at the 2022 Christmas Fayre organised by Ruddington Village Community Partnership. Although separate to our planning application, in April we donated ten mature trees to Rushcliffe Country Park to help with the continuing problem with Ash Dieback. RCE also donated to the Coronation Outdoor picnic event including coffees, teas and entertainment. RCE are continuing to learn about the great work being carried out in the community surrounding the proposal, such as the Ruddington Pantry, Heat ‘n’ Eat and the Nottingham Heritage Transport Centre. We look forward to continuing to build relationships with as many groups as possible.

  Community Benefits

Ridge Clean Energy work in partnership with your community and local groups to discover where we can help make a real difference. This page will evolve as we know more about the project and community needs.

As part of our work on the proposed Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park, we are already liaising with: residents, transport charities, community groups, local businesses, such as The Old Bakehouse Tearoom, and amazing community volunteers.

There are a number of potential projects that the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park could support (such as the proposed new community centre). We welcome your views and inputs on opportunities in the area where we could make a difference.

As well as community benefits, the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park intends to deliver a substantial net gain in biodiversity, supporting the local environment. This would, for example, include species-rich seed mix in between the rows of solar panels to encourage birds, bees and other wildlife to make their home there.

  Our Experience

We have an experienced Community Partnership Team that work with local communities to create enduring local benefits.

Each project is assigned a Community Partnership Coordinator, who will forge relationships with key stakeholders in the area to identify and develop local initiatives and ideas that will support the community and its path to Net Zero.

Alongside our experience, we can also provide up-front seed capital and support with fundraising for local projects, allowing a community to benefit right from the beginning of the partnership.

  Community Survey

  Project Documents

The application documents that were submitted to Rushcliffe Borough Council can be viewed below.

  Project FAQs

Access & Construction

We listened to comments made during our public engagements and have worked hard to successfully secure an alternative temporary construction access route which avoids the centre of Ruddington Village. The new temporary route would allow construction vehicles to access the site via Pasture Lane, off Clifton Lane.


If delivery HGVs were averaged out across the 9-12 month construction process, during the peak months for delivery there would be approximately 6 ‘two way’ HGV movements per day – equating to twelve daily movements.


Solar panels do not require concrete foundations unless in very special circumstances, and no such circumstances are currently envisaged at the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park. Some concrete is required for foundations at the new substation, but this is very localised.

Firstly access tracks would be built through the site (likely made of crushed stone, which would be left to grass over with time), after which the supporting frames are pushed into the ground. The solar panels themselves would then be bolted on to the frames, connected up by underground wiring and the site then secured with deer fencing.

There has been some media attention about the development of solar panels in certain countries, however more and more panels are now being manufactured in countries like Germany, America and Canada. A commercial decision would be made as to the source of the panels for the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park if planning permission is granted and Ridge Clean Energy is not tied to any particular manufacturer.


Agricultural land/Land Use

The UK needs to not only decarbonise its energy mix, but also boost its domestic energy security which means developments like the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park are really important. Whilst the land wouldn’t be used to grow crops during the operational period, the landowner can continue to farm their remaining farmland. It is intended that a sheep grazing licence being entered into at the appropriate time. At the end of the operational period, the landowner would be free to farm the land once again, on better agricultural land with a higher organic carbon content having secured the diversification of their farming practice for generations to come.


Land between the panels would be sown with a wildflower seed mix and left fallow to become a biodiverse rich habitat which would increase in organic carbon content over the lifetime of the project. The land wouldn’t be sprayed and would be in a better state for agricultural production once decommissioned. Following decommissioning, studies have shown that a field that has been allowed to lie fallow for just a year produces a higher crop yield when it is re-planted.


The solar panel rows are spaced to maximise the amount of clean renewable energy generated, whilst allowing a net gain in biodiversity. Unfortunately, the spacing isn’t large enough to allow machines to sow and harvest crops.

The quality of agricultural land in the UK ranges from 1 (being the best) to 5 (being the worst). Land at the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park is ‘Grade 3A’.

A number of factors including large distances to properties, accessibility to the local electricity distribution network, large open fields patterns, a viable access route and a willing landowner.

The site was identified for potential by the Ridge Clean Energy team due to its proximity to Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station, which is set to be decommissioned by September 2024, freeing up precious grid capacity. The land is conveniently located to the local electricity distribution network (a 132kV line runs adjacent to the site which is our currently intended point of connection).

As part of our application, we have submitted a ‘Glint and Glare assessment’ which considers the potential for impact to railway users. It should be remembered that solar panels are designed to absorb as much sun light as possible, rather than to reflect it. Our environmental enhancement plans include new hedgerows with Oak Trees parallel to, but set back from, the railway.


Operational Period

The solar panels would range from 90cm at their lowest point, to up to 3m at their highest point.


Placing a backstop date on any permission allows Rushcliffe Borough Council to maintain control over any non-agricultural use of the land. In addition, technology in general could look very different in 35-40 years’ time, so it’s only right that the land isn’t left for solar generation in perpetuity.


If planning consent is granted, it would be accompanied by a set of planning conditions one of which would stipulate that the development must be decommissioned. After this time, the landowner would be free to return the land to agricultural use. If anything else were to happen to the land, it would require a new planning permission at that point in time.

Solar panels are robust and would generally last for the operational period of the development. The battery units would likely be replaced every decade.

One of the planning conditions accompanying any planning permission would likely set the dimensions and overall heights of the development. If new technology becomes available during the operational period, and it fits within the stipulated dimensions from the initial planning permission, yes we could consider using the new technology if it would improve the amount of electricity generation on the site and be cost effective to do so.

As part of our application, we have submitted a ‘Glint and Glare assessment’ which considers the potential for impact to railway users. It should be remembered that solar panels are designed to absorb as much sun light as possible, rather than to reflect it. Our environmental enhancement plans include new hedgerows with Oak Trees parallel to, but set back from, the railway.

One of Ridge Clean Energy’s main owners also owns one of the largest privately held companies in the US, with an annual turnover of more than $2 Billion. Ridge, therefore, has access to more than enough funding required to develop the project. Additionally, the project will be held in a separate special purpose vehicle. However unlikely, if something did happen to Ridge, the project would be a valuable asset that, once built, would continue to generate and sell electricity and therefore, would be financially viable. Operation of the project would comply with the planning conditions, for example, relating to the environmental management and decommissioning of the site.

The UK has a ambition to decarbonise its electricity supply by 2035 and is legally required to reach ‘net zero’ emissions by 2050. More projects such as the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park are required to not only achieve this, but to also combat climate change, secure our domestic energy supply and move away from volatile energy markets. When there is space in the local electricity grid to accept new renewable energy generation (as there is at the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park), we should seek to maximise these opportunities.

We have assessed the impacts of our project in cumulation with others in the immediate area, and it is for Rushcliffe Borough Council to determine the merits of our application (based on planning policy and feedback they receive during the determination phase).

The electricity generated by the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park would feed directly into the local electricity distribution network. There may be times when this electricity is distributed to the local area, or it may be used more widely. However, there would not be a direct connection from the site to the local community.


Battery Storage

The battery storage containers are sealed units with appropriate prevention measures in place to prevent, and if necessary contain, any leaks. They would also be placed on hardstandings to act as another barrier to reduce the possibility of any leakages. Information relating to this will be included in the planning application.


The battery units are charged when the solar park is producing more electricity than it is allowed to export, this energy is then release to the local electrical distribution network during times of high demand to smooth the output from the solar development. The batteries can also import electricity from the local electrical distribution network when there is excess electricity, again releasing it during times of high demand.


The batteries proposed at the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park would likely be lithium ion batteries.

Yes, this is a common practice which assists in smoothing the output from the solar park as well as the electricity grid. Battery storage projects are now common developments in their own right. They can also provide services such as frequency and voltage control, which is useful for the grid.


Recycling

More than 90% of each solar panel can be recycled, returning the valuable component parts back into the circular economy.


Environmental

No – solar panels work really well with local ecology. Our landscape and ecology experts have worked together to prepare an enhancement package that would result in a 75% net gain in habitat at the site. New hedgerows, trees and species rich meadow would be planted in and around the edge of the site which has been designed to reduce impact to species using the Fairham Brook (a well-used ecology corridor). See the submitted Environmental Statement for further information.


The site operator would be responsible for the management and maintenance of these areas, rather than the local community.


The Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park has been designed to prevent impact to the Fairham Brook as much as possible, and any run off from the site would be reduced to existing ‘greenfield’ rates.

We’re confident that noise wouldn’t be an issue from the Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park. This is because of the distance between the infrastructure and properties, as well as our proposed bunding surrounding the battery units. There would be some sound heard when walking along the footpaths immediately adjacent to the site, but any sound generated would quickly dissipate with distance. We have submitted a noise assessment as part of our application for planning permission.

Whilst there may be some temporary disruption to footpaths during construction, all existing footpaths would remain open during the operational lifetime of the development.


Community

The community benefit fund would consist of £500 per MW exported to the grid per year. The Fair Oaks Renewable Energy Park consists of 49.9MW export, so the community benefit fund would amount to £24,950 per year.


The goals of the community funding are to help support and realise community-identified initiatives that will strengthen the local fabric and assist in achieving the community’s net zero goals. In addition, we will provide assistance to local groups in seeking grant funding from other sources with our contribution underpinning the fundraising effort.


We wrote to the parishes of Ruddington, Gotham, Barton in Fabis and East Clifton about our proposal, as well as residents surrounding the scheme. We issued invitations to our public exhibitions to over 2,300 local community members, and distributed newsletters when our application became ‘live’.


Miscellaneous Questions

No, Ridge Clean Energy is not connected to any of the housing developments in the area, and is not involved in any housing development.


We have been working since 2003 to create locally supported renewable energy parks in the UK – combining solar, wind, and batteries to optimise renewable megawatt hours and, at the same time, creating local hubs to help communities on a path to net zero.


We currently have a portfolio of projects at various stages of the planning process, spread across the UK. Please explore our website for further information.

Please note that any comments sent via the channels outlined above do not constitute a formal representation to the Local Planning Authority. There will be an opportunity to submit formal representations to the Local Planning Authority upon submission of a planning application.

  Comments

Providing comments or requesting a call back from a member of the project team using the forms below.

  Email

Email us a comment or enquiry via the following email address fairoaks@theridgegroup.com.

  Post

Or write to: Ridge Clean Energy, Noah's Ark, Market Street, Charlbury, OX7 3PL.

  Get In Touch