A solar farm and electric vehicle recharging forecourt, with 24 charging points, could be built off the Copwood Roundabout in Uckfield.
Planning officers have been asked for a screening opinion on whether the development on 20 acres of land needs an environmental impact statement to accompany a planning application.
Gridserve, which operates solar energy and energy storage solutions, is considering building a solar electric forecourt which would generate up to four megawatts of renewable energy on site to be dispensed into electric vehicles.
The council has said it is of the opinion that the nature, scale and location of the development would not give rise to significant environmental effect but it would need to be screened under the provisions of the Habitats Regulations.
Also issues of nitrogen deposition on the Ashdown Forest and Lewes Special Area of Conservation would need to be considered as a result of traffic movements generated by the proposed use.
The land identified, off the Copwood Roundabout on the Uckfield by-pass, and at the end of Bell Farm Road, is currently three arable fields. The proposed access would be via an existing farm entrance south of the roundabout junction on the A22.
A document submitted to the council says the electric forecourt would provide high-powered electric vehicle charging to vehicles via 12 ultra-rapid, and 12 fast charging spaces.
There would also be a 4,000 sq ft two-storey building comprising:
- Drive-through infrastructure for food and beverage
- Vehicle specific maintenance (tyre pressure, coolant), integrated with charging spaces
- Car valet/cleaning (portable function utilising existing spaces)
- Meeting space/hot desk area
In addition to the charging points a further 20 spaces would be available to support the overflow from the use of the charging spaces, and to enable non-electric vehicle customers to park and access other functions of the forecourt.
The solar farm would be able to generate up to 3,500 MWh of power each year, equivalent to the annual electrical requirements of more than 1,000 average homes, or being able to fully charge, from empty, 87,500 electric vehicles.
The Gridserve document says the solar farm land could be used for biodiversity enhancement by accommodating beehives and wild flower planting to encourage bee re-population and pollination the area.
Furthermore at the end of the operational life of the installation the land could be returned to agricultural use.
“The installation of the solar arrays does not involve significant ground works, and the scale and height of the arrays is such that they can be screened from the surrounding area by hedgerows and landscape features.
“Solar PV farms are passive in operation, which distinguishes them from active and noise generating renewable energy developments such as wind turbines.
“Any limited environmental effects (eg traffic movements), are largely confined to the construction phase, which is typically for short duration.”