The examination phase for Mallard Pass comes as the 373MW Cleve Hill begins construction in Kent. Image: Unsplash (Mariana Proença).

The 350MW Mallard Pass Solar Farm, a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) being developed in and around Lincolnshire, has entered the examination phase.

Being developed by Canadian Solar and Windel Energy, the project, which will sit across 880 hectares of land, now enters the examination phase following the end of the public consultation stage via pre-examinations which started in January 2023.

The project will be situated on either side of the East Coast Main Line near Essendine, making it partly situated in South Kesteven in Lincolnshire and partly in Rutland. It is to be connected to the grid via an existing 400kW Ryhall substation at Uffington Lane.

“We are confident in our proposals for Mallard Pass Solar Farm and are looking forward to this next step of the application process,” said Sarah Price, planning lead for the Mallard Pass Solar Farm.

“Throughout the six-month Examination, the Examining Authority (ExA) will carefully consider all important and relevant matters to our DCO application in order for PINS to make its recommendation to the Secretary of State as to whether or not to grant development consent. We look forward to our application being tested through this process, offering an opportunity to further discuss our proposals.”

The ExA is under a duty to complete the examination phase by the end of the six-month period. Once this closes, the authority will be required to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State within three months as to whether the application for the project should be granted or not.

Following this, the Secretary of State then has three months to review and consider the recommendation and then decide whether to grant the Development Consent Order (DCO).

The ExA recently set out in its Rule 6 Letter that, during the examination phase, those that have registered as interested parties will be invited to provide more details of their views in writing, and there will be written questions designed to ensure that the ExA has all the information it needs to make a recommendation to the Secretary of State.

The Mallard Pass project has been met by some opposition from the local community, and in particular from the MP for Rutland and Melton Alicia Kearns, Solar Power Portal previously reported. She spoke out against the solar farm in a debate in the House of Commons on UK-Taiwan Friendship and Co-operation on 10 February 2022, stating that the site is “being developed by a de facto Chinese company with supply chains reaching into Xinjiang.”

With Mallard Pass now entering into the examination phase, this is another boost for solar NSIPs with Cleve Hill, a 373MW solar and battery energy storage project in Kent, recently starting construction, as reported by Solar Power Portal.

One of the largest solar NSIP projects called Botley West, with a generation capacity of 840MW, launched its first public consultation in early November 2022. Project developer’s PVDP said it will submit a DCO application to PINS by the end of 2023.

Solar Power Portal sat down with Mark Owen-Lloyd, project lead for the Botley West project at PVDP, in January 2023 to find out more about the public consultation process, issues surrounding public perception of solar projects and how NSIP projects could be key in unlocking the UK’s budding renewable sector.

On 26-27 June Solar Power Portal's publisher Solar Media will host its annual UK Solar Summit in London. This year, the Summit will explore solar’s role in the UK’s energy mix, analysing how this will change as we draw closer to the Government’s net zero target. For more information, please visit the UK Solar Summit website here