Guidance Note for the Renewable and Low Carbon Energy Generation in North Somerset Supplementary Planning Document


Planning application and EIA submission requirements  

Irrespective of whether the development falls within EIA regulations or not, North Somerset Council considers the following items to be necessary for submission with either a planning application or as part of an Environmental Statement:  

a) Design and layout: 

Plan – Site Area (ha) to include extent of array, inverter buildings, fence line, etc

  • Location plan – surrounding features, field boundaries, including trees and hedgerows and topographical information
  • Specification of panels, details of mounting structure including frame height, materials and base size.
  • Programme of site preparation, construction, operation and restoration
  • Access proposals for construction, maintenance and decommissioning
  • Excavation/levelling details and soil removal estimates
  • Presence of any existing utilities, underground cables, pylons etc and impact during construction
  • Specification and design of any associated roads, hard standing or storage buildings, temporary and permanent
  • Specification of any inverter buildings, sub-stations, control facilities and grid connection
  • Specification of any additional security and lighting features.  

b) Assessments and mitigation  

  • Justification of location
  • Assessment of agricultural land
  • Landscape/Visual Impact Assessment (to include PV glint and glare)
  • Landscape enhancement and mitigation proposal, including a 25 year site-management plan
  • Assessment of Cumulative Impact
  • Ecological survey and assessment, and biodiversity enhancement proposals.
  • Transport Assessment to include construction, operation and maintenance and decommission schedule and predicted vehicle movements during all stages of the proposal.
  • Flood Risk Assessment – the surface water treatment needs to be considered carefully given the potential for proposed buildings and hard standing to be provided within the site
  • Investigation into the potential presence of features of archaeological interest or cultural heritage
  • The extent of survey and assessment material should reflect the extent and sensitivity of the site.  

c) Additional Requirements  

  • Lifetime generation capacity
  • Maintenance and Inspection Schedule
  • Decommissioning Schedule
  • Details of Electricity Generating Capacity
  • Details of Grid Connection
  • Confirmation from the Distribution Network Operator that the required capacity is available at the selected site and identification of point of connection
  • Insurance details relative to security requirements
  • A statement of community engagement, and the identification of any proposed wider community gains  

Environmental Impact Assessment  

If the council considers the proposal to fall under Schedule 2 of the 2011 EIA Regulations, an Environmental Statement needs to be prepared so that it can be considered with a planning application. The Environmental Statement needs to cover the requirements above as well as the following:  

1. Description of the development incorporating 

  • The proposed development
  • The purpose of the development
  • Relevant plans showing the site location and area involved with the  development
  • Survey, analysis and design of the proposed buildings/ structure with floor plans and elevations
  • Solar panel design and specification, method of construction/ installation
  • Reasonable estimates of quantity and type of traffic, which will be generated through construction and operation  

2. Site Description  

  • Description of the main reasons for the site selection and any alternatives in site design or layout which have been considered
  • The area of proposed land which the panels will occupy, clearly described and indicated on a map or diagram
  • An illustrated description of the land use of the surrounding area
  • Description of the policies plans and designations which are relevant to the proposal  

3. Impacts and their significance  

The environmental statement must assess the impact of the proposal and how significant its impact, including short, medium and long-term effects, permanent and temporary effects, and positive as well as negative effects. The following factors should all be considered within the Environmental Statement:  

·         Fauna

·         Flora

·         Soil

·         Water

·         Air

·         Climatic factors

·         Material assets e.g. architectural and archaeological heritage

·         Landscape

·         Population

·         Inter-relationship between the above  

Some of these factors will not be impacted on by the development; if this is the case then a short explanation of why it is not relevant is required.  

4. Mitigation Measures  

Mitigation of the effects that have been identified must be covered within the Environmental Statement. The most suitable format may be to focus on one issue at a time, discussing the effect; its significance and its mitigation. For example a wildlife survey will identify what the impacts of the development are on wildlife, then go on to discuss the significance of the impact and then propose mitigation measures, finishing with a conclusion. This should be done for each issue.  

5. Conclusion of Impacts   

This can be included with each report/ assessment of the area under examination.  

6. Alternatives  

  • Demonstrate that other sites have been considered and the reasons why other sites have been dismissed/why this site is most appropriate.
  • Report on any alternatives within the scheme that have been considered and dismissed, for example: different accesses and location of buildings within the site etc.  

7. Methods  

How the development will be implemented, including site preparation, drainage, maintenance, timescale for implementation and the phasing of work.  

8. Difficulties  

An indication of any difficulties encountered through technical deficiencies or lack of know-how encountered in compiling the information required in the Environmental Statement 

9. Summary 

An Environmental Statement needs to be accompanied by a non-technical summary of the information provided above. The non-technical summary needs to contain:  

  • Purpose and nature of the project
  • An area summary
  • A brief description of information presented in the Environmental Statement, detailing key issues relating to environmental elements and the final determination of impact significance
  • Conclusions  

For further guidance the formal requirements on the content of environmental statements are set out in Schedule 4 of the 2011 EIA Regulations. 

Figure 1. Solar irradiation in England showing solar electricity potential  


 Figure 2. Agricultural Land Classification Map for North Somerset




Sources of further information: 

North Somerset Council Statement of community involvement: 


North Somerset Council Consultation Draft Sites and Policies Development Plan Document 


The North Somerset Biodiversity Action plan ‘Action for Nature’ 


North Somerset Council proposals map:


North Somerset Landscape Character Assessment Supplementary Planning Document:


Natural England: TIN 101 ‘Solar parks: maximising environmental benefits’.


North Somerset Council Validation list for new development proposals:


The North Somerset Core Strategy:


Feed in Tariff ( website):


Renewables Obligation Certificates ( website):