The Mallard Pass solar project will be located on either side of the East Coast Main Line near Essendine. Image: Andreas Gücklhorn (Unsplash).

The second consultation phase has opened for the 350MW Mallard Pass solar farm in South Kesteven, Lincolnshire, and Rutland.

Local residents and stakeholders now have till 4 August to review the updated plans for the site, which build on the responses received during the first consultation as well as environmental surveys and assessments.

This includes residential ‘buffer zones’ being introduced, the creation of 108 hectares of wildflower and tussock grassland areas and 4.7 kilometres of permissive paths.

The Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) is being developed by Canadian Solar and Windel Energy, which will run a series of in-person and digital events during the Stage Two Statutory Consultation.

“The first quarter of 2022 has demonstrated our vulnerability to volatile energy prices and international energy markets and our urgent need for new energy generation infrastructure, particularly from clean, low-cost sources such as solar,” said Gary Toomey, managing director of Windel Energy.

“It is our ambition to deliver a project that provides reliable and sustainable energy to the national grid while responding sensitively to the local environment, providing opportunities for surrounding communities, and offering enhancements to native wildlife and biodiversity.”

As an NSIP, Canadian Solar and Windel Energy will have to gain a Development Consent Order from the Planning Inspectorate to develop the site. They are planning on submitting their application later this year.

The project has been met by opposition in particular from the MP for Rutland and Melton Alicia Kearns. 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, stating that the site is “being developed by a de facto Chinese company with supply chains reaching into Xinjiang”.

Mallard Pass is one of number of NSIP’s currently in development in the UK, including BayWa r.e.’ 160MW Oaklands Farm Solar Park, Ecotricity’s Heckington Fen Solar Park, Evolution Power’s 165MW solar and storage project in Kent, Low Carbon’s 500MW Gate Burton solar and storage park in Lincolnshire, Island Green Power’s 600MW solar project and Longfield Solar Energy Farm in Essex.

INRG Solar’s 150MWp Little Crow Solar Farm recently became the second NSIP solar farm to gain a development consent order, following on from the 350MW Cleve Hill Solar Farm, which was approved in May 2020, before being acquired by acquired by Quinbrook and renamed Project Fortress.

Full details of the proposed solar farm and the consultation events can be found here.