Southill Solar lies on 45 acres of Grade 3b agricultural land owned by the Cornbury estate, sandwiched between the railway, the road and a substation.
This is in a truly beautiful area of the Cotswold countryside. At the heart of our plans for Southill is the need to create an attractive site that enhances biodiversity – doing good for local plants and wildlife.
We’re lucky to be working with the UK’s leading ecologist specialising in solar farms, Dr. Guy Parker. Guy has developed a bespoke Landscape and Ecological Management plan for the site which will ensure that wildflowers, bees and butterflies flourish on the land.
- We’ll enhance the hedgerows that border the field by planting gaps with a wide range of shrubs to provide food and shelter for farmland birds. We’ll encourage wide field margins of tussocky grass to develop along the site boundary – ideal for hares, reptiles and nesting bumble bees.
- We’re planning to establish a wildflower meadow – one of Britain’s rarest
and most valuable habitats – in the grassland around the site. This will be a home for rare chalk loving plants and attract a wide range of insects, birds and mammals.
- Beneath the solar panels we’ll establish a traditional grazing mix of fine grasses and wild flowers. To make sure the solar panels aren’t overgrown, we’ll use sheep to graze the wildflower meadow. The sheep will be removed through the summer months to allow wild flowers to bloom and set seed.
- An apple orchard will be planted along the northern boundary of the site, including local varieties of apple such as Oxford Sunset and Peggy’s Pride. This will provide fruit to the community as well as food for wildlife.
The site will also save around 2,372 tonnes of carbon a year, or approximately
60,000 tonnes over the lifetime of the project – helping in the fight against climate change.
How the site will look
The Southill Solar team have worked really hard to minimise the visual impact of the solar panels. Our first plans showed that the farm would be too visible from the road, so we changed those and reduced the area. It now lies in a fold of land, low down in the fields.
Our innovative ‘Bring Your Brolly Day' – for which our landscape architect Charlie Clews won a national award – showed that the visual impact was much less, and the county council gave us planning permission.
"I love that this work has raised awareness of the role of the landscape architect with the community who now see the value of what we do, this was great and also fun!'
Noel Farrer, President of the Landscape Institute