Giles Johnston of DDM Agriculture is very proud to have been involved in what is only the second successful field-scale solar PV project consented through the Development Consent Order (DCO) process in England.
This project, which will power between 45,000 and 60,000 homes a year, started as an instruction nearly five years ago, following a landowner’s decision to sell an off-lying block of poorer quality arable land. At the outset, DDM Agriculture identified that the land in question had the benefit of an on-site grid connection, as well as other physical attributes meaning the site lent itself perfectly for use for a substantial renewables project. With a firm belief in the suitability of the site, Giles worked speculatively and led the commercial negotiations on behalf of the two landowners, through to the completion of Option agreements.
Negotiations have been tough and not without complication. The first set of potential developers was replaced with a second developer, the latter proving both financially capable and willing to work in a collaborative style with the landowners. As with all such sites, numerous legal, technical and physical challenges arose through the approval process. By maintaining sound working relationships with all relevant parties, including the project developer, Northern Powergrid, North Lincolnshire Council and a multitude of other interested parties, DDM Agriculture was able to assist in over-coming such hurdles. This tenacious and collaborative approach has resulted in a stunning uplift in both long-term income and capital value for the landowners as well as significant environmental benefits for the North Lincolnshire area.
Due to the solar scheme being of a scale in excess of 50 MW, it fell to be regarded as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and, as such, a Development Consent Order (DCO) had to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate (PINS). The application was accepted for consideration by PINS, on 23 December 2020. It had taken two years’ worth of work and commitment to get to that point. At the time of submission no other such application had been determined anywhere within England, so the application represented extremely interesting but also cutting-edge work.
Some fifteen months later, on 05 April 2022, the Little Crow Solar Park was finally granted development consent by the Secretary of State for Business Energy & Industrial Strategy. The project will now move into the construction phase, ultimately ensuring a safe form of renewable energy supply for North Lincolnshire and beyond.
The project benefits for the area extend above and beyond simply providing a safe power supply for tens of thousands of homes:
As a result of the unique experience gained through this process, Giles is now involved in assisting numerous landowners throughout the United Kingdom, on solar schemes which routinely extend to several thousands of acres each in scale. Usually sites of such a size involve multiple landowners and this presents challenges of its own – but ones that are met with detailed technical knowledge and enthusiasm.