Project status

  • Holding information
  • Active information
  • Closed for comments
  • Planning submitted
  • Planning decision
  • In construction

Welcome to
Birch Solar Farm

Low Carbon is proposing a new solar farm, to be known as Birch Solar Farm, located to the north of Hardy’s Green and west of Heckfordbridge. The project will generate approximately 40 megawatts (MW), producing enough clean renewable energy to cover the annual electrical consumption of over 12,850 homes each year.

  • Project Status

    Planning submitted

  • Site address

    Land north of Hardy's Green and west of Heckfordbridge.

Birch Solar Farm

Low Carbon is bringing forward a new renewable energy project along with the infrastructure needed to export the electricity it generates to the local network operator.

Birch Solar Farm, located to the north of Hardy’s Green and west of Heckfordbridge, will generate approximately 40 megawatts (MW), producing enough clean renewable energy to cover the annual electrical consumption of over 12,850 homes each year.

The solar farm, co-located with battery storage will contribute to supporting our transition to a low carbon energy system while securing the energy needs for Great Britain whilst helping to reach our commitment of net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Birch Solar Farm is proposed for a period of 40 years, after which the modules would be decommissioned and removed from the land and as many items will be recycled or re-purposed as possible.


  1. February 2022

    EIA Screening & Parish Consultation

    Completed 2022-04-05
  2. May to June 2022

    Community Consultation

    Completed 2022-06-19
  3. Early Summer 2022

    Planning application submission to Colchester Borough Council

    Completed 2022-08-19
  1. Winter 2022

    Colchester Borough Council will consider and determine the application

  2. Summer 2023

    Commencement of Construction (if planning permission is granted)

Additional Information

We have submitted a planning application to Colchester Borough Council. The full application is now available on the Council’s website with the reference number: 222151 , please click here to view the full application

  1. Completed
  2. Completed
  3. Completed


Across our UK-wide portfolio of renewable energy projects, we have championed biodiversity as a critical milestone on the journey towards a low-carbon future.

Across all our solar parks we work with landowners and developers to implement comprehensive land and biodiversity management programmes. Each aligns with the conditions and circumstances unique to its site. Yet while we are pledged to protecting existing flora and fauna, most solar farms benefit still more from the introduction of extensive new planting and husbandry measures.

As sites mature, ongoing development will realise an increasing diversity of habitats and species: from meadows, hedgerows, wildflowers and woodland to sheep, bees, birds, bats, reptiles and invertebrates.

  • Biodiversity

  • Sheep

  • Beehives

  • Public Rights of Way (PRoW)

  • Planting

Updated Layout

To view the changes that have been made, please click on the Revised Layout and the Superseded Layout.

Click on a stage of the project below to show proposed timelapse images of the site

  • Revised Layout
  • Superseded Layout


Low Carbon is the developer of this project and we will use the information gathered at the end of the consultation period to advise on the development of the proposed solar farm.

Here is a selection of questions that have been asked relating to solar farm installations/builds

Why here?

Low Carbon has carefully identified this site as part of a detailed feasibility process to deliver a large-scale clean energy scheme. Many factors are considered by our specialists when evaluating appropriate sites for development. These include considering the available grid locally as well as various planning and environmental constraints.

Solar offers a low cost, safe and low carbon way of delivering clean power to meet this target as well as reduce the levels of carbon dioxide that are being emitted into the atmosphere by replacing electricity generation from fossil fuels.

The proposal includes battery storage which will allow energy to be stored on site at times when grid-demand is lower and exported at times of higher demand to ensure no energy is ‘lost’ and help balance the National Grid.

Are there any health risks associated with being in close proximity to solar panels and energy storage facilities?

Solar panel arrays do emit electric and magnetic fields (EMF) in the same extremely low frequency ranges as electrical appliances and wiring found in most houses and buildings.

The average daily background exposure to magnetic fields is estimated to be around one mG (milligauss – the unit used to measure magnetic field strength), but can vary considerably depending on a person’s exposure to EMF from household electrical devices and wiring.

The lowest exposure level that has been potentially associated with a health effect is three mG. Measurements at three commercial PV arrays in Massachusetts demonstrated that their contributions to off-site EMF exposures were low (less than 0.5 mG at the site boundary), which is consistent with the drop off of EMF strength based on distance from the source (2015, Clean Energy Results).

Will there be noise and visual impacts from Birch Solar Farm?

As part of our ongoing work to determine the design of the project, we are undertaking surveys to ensure the levels of noise produced by the equipment onsite is within an acceptable range. Low Carbon will produce a full noise impact assessment as part of our application for development consent.

Similarly, studies are ongoing to ensure the visual impact of the Solar Farm on the local landscape is minimised. This will include screening and the installation of other mitigation measures in the appropriate locations around the perimeter of the land available for the project.

Will Birch Solar Farm use land that could be used from growing crops for food production?

There is always a balance to be found when new development comes forward, with many factors and impacts to consider. Due to its proposed location, Birch Solar Farm will potentially utilise land that could be used for agricultural production. However, the land take involved is minimal in the context of food production across Colchester and allows clean energy to be generated at greater scale and efficiency than rooftop alternatives.

Solar farms can provide vital space for improving biodiversity, such as wildflowers and bees. Low Carbon encourages the grazing of sheep and the siting of beehives in its solar parks, meaning that the potential for dual use of the land for electricity development and agriculture will be explored during the development of this proposal.

Will the solar farm cause any glint and glare?

Solar panels are designed to absorb light and not to reflect it. They pose little risk of glint or glare. Testament to this fact is the installation of solar panels at Gatwick Airport, alongside major roads and beside sports car raceways such as the ‘Top Gear’ test track.

Key Project Documents

In this section, you will find key information about the project which you able to download and view or print at home.

  • Consultation Report

    Full consultation report for the project.

  • Revised Transport Report

  • Revised Construction Traffic Management Plan

  • Superseded Site Layout

  • Revised Scheme Layout

    View the revised scheme layout

  • Environmental Statement Addendum

  • Updated Mitigation Planting Proposal