RNA Energy, an expert in solar power and battery energy storage, is bringing forward plans for East Park Energy; a new solar farm and battery storage scheme on land north-west of St Neots, straddling the administrative boundary of Bedford and Huntingdonshire. An initial consultation on the scheme will run for five weeks from, Tuesday 17th October to Tuesday 21st November 2023.
The scheme aims to export 400MW of renewable energy generation to the National Grid, ensuring a sustainable energy source for approximately 108,000 households— more than the total number in Bedford. Notably, the scheme is expected to more than double the current renewable energy output of Huntingdonshire District and Bedford Borough.
The plans also include a battery energy storage facility that will be used to store excess power that is generated by the solar array to make power available to the grid during times of peak demand. By ensuring a steady and reliable energy supply, East Park Energy will contribute to the stability of the National Grid's operations.
As the scheme will exceed 50MW of energy generation, this makes it a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and RNA Energy will be required to submit an application for a Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero.
In the first instance, RNA Energy will be undertaking an initial consultation on the scheme to understand public opinion and to shape the final plans before delivering a statutory consultation in 2024.
Beyond its energy benefits, East Park Energy will include substantial hedgerow, tree planting, and wild grassland areas around the perimeter of each field. This will provide a boost to local pollinator, bird and small mammal (mice, voles, hedgehog, bat) species populations due to the increased habitat connectivity and additional food sources. RNA Energy has an ambition to deliver a significant biodiversity net gain for the local area, going well beyond minimum Government requirements.
As part of the plans, RNA Energy has also committed to a Community Benefit Fund (the East Park Legacy Fund) which will support the community transition to Net Zero, likely in the form of grants that will be made available to community groups and facilities, public services, and local homeowners.
A spokesperson for RNA Energy said:
“We are delighted to share our initial plans for East Park Energy. The scheme will provide clean renewable energy and will assist with the UK’s transition to net zero.
“During a time when people are struggling to pay their energy bills, it is essential that we find cheap, green alternatives to the fossil fuel markets which are responsible for surging energy prices.
“We are committed to engaging with the local community to better develop the scheme. We are proud of our plans, and we look forward to hearing what those in the area think of our ideas.”
Members of the public can find out more about East Park Energy and share their views by visiting the website https://eastparkenergy.co.uk/. Furthermore, local residents can get in touch via email to email@example.com or by calling the Community Information Line via 0333 358 0502 (Monday to Friday – 9am to 5:30pm).