The site is close to the National Grid Ryhall Substation and is expected to generate in the region of 350 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy, enough to power the equivalent of 92,000 UK households.

As well as providing a source of renewable energy, the proposals for the project, which covers 852 hectares, will include a ‘net gain’ in biodiversity for the local area including grassland with wildflowers, hedgerows and wet woodland.

Due to the fact that the capacity of the solar farm is more than 50 megawatts, Mallard Pass Solar Farm is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and, therefore requires a Development Consent Order (DCO).

Ardent on board

Ardent Management was instructed by Windel Energy in May 2022 as the Land Referencing consultants to provide advice and support regarding the application of the DCO.

The project work was led by Oscar Barton, Senior Consultant in Infrastructure and Regeneration and included detailed contact land referencing activities that were undertaken to ensure that all relevant interested parties were identified within the area earmarked for the development. 

In total, 161 interested parties were identified including freeholders and leaseholders as well as interests around rights, easements, restricted covenants, statutory undertakers and registered charges. 

There was also interest from Network Rail where cables would be running beneath a local viaduct.

Oscar said: “When we were appointed, the project was at a relatively advanced stage of design with quite a high degree of optionality in it, which meant some of the land identified could be removed.  

“Our role was to ensure that we can demonstrate a high level of diligence in our inquiry as the project moves towards the application for the Development Consent Order. 

“We issued documents, including land interest questionnaires to affected parties, based on the latest information from the Land Registry. Those parties were given the opportunity to respond and we then made sure we followed up for information and ensured that we consulted everyone who might be affected by the scheme. 

“We also provided support in erecting, maintaining and removing site notices required to publicise the consultation.

“There is always a great deal of work going on behind the scenes in collating the information but it’s vitally important in helping to move a project such as this through the stages of the planning process. 

“All projects have different challenges. This one requires cabling routes along highways and the parties on either side of the road can claim a reputable interest in the subsoil. It can often be quite difficult to prove so they tend to receive a nominal fee for their interest.”

DCO application 

Ardent Management’s main deliverables in the process were to provide statutory consultation mail outs, a Book of Reference that details all the land referencing information, land plans and a schedule of negotiations with those interested parties. 

All of that was key to the successful move towards the application for the DCO, required to get such a significant project off the ground.

That DCO application was submitted in November 2022 and accepted for examination, with a decision expected in December 2023.

Ardent will maintain an advisory role as the project moves through examination towards a decision. 

Oscar added: “We are very pleased to have supported the project to this stage, particularly as it is going to support the drive towards renewable energy. 

“Before it can be developed, due process has to be followed and that’s where the expertise that Ardent can bring are so important.

“Renewables are crucial for the country and the aims to get to net zero so it really is an area that Ardent is proud to support with.”