Biodiversity Net Gain Assessment for Cambridge University Solar Farm

The brief

Cambridge University required a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) assessment for the creation of a solar farm to help meet its net zero targets. The site covers 37 hectares of arable fields and grassland southeast of the Lordsbridge Radio telescope in Barton, Cambridgeshire.

What did we do?

MKA was commissioned to undertake the BNG assessment to detail how the biodiversity enhancements in the proposed scheme would lead to an overall benefit to biodiversity.

Our ecologists carried out a thorough habitat condition assessment and compared it against the proposed landscape masterplan in order to calculate an overall biodiversity net change for the site.

We were then able to offer advice on the scope and type of habitats required to be created, enhanced or restored to help provide the net gain required. The proposals included: the creation of wildflower grassland underneath the solar panels, the planting of a number of new, species-rich hedgerows, as well as the creation of new scrub thickets of mixed scrub planting to connect existing woodland to the offsite County Wildlife Sites (CWS) which also provided a buffer for an active badger sett. In addition, the two present areas of woodland within the Site and grassland were to be retained to enhance existing habitats.

What was the outcome for the client?

MKA concluded that the proposed development would lead to a significant net gain in biodiversity at the site. The largest gain would be generated by the creation of a meadow grassland beneath the solar panels and the site’s woodland parcels that would be enhanced from ‘Poor’ to ‘Moderate’ condition.

The solar farm is planned to be in place for 40 years after which the university said the land would be returned to agricultural use.

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What our clients said

Whenever I see a really good piece of work I always make a point of thanking the ecologist concerned, because it makes my job so much easier.

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