“As well as enhancing the cultural and historic environment, the project has also been able to find a reuse for the structures that supports local biodiversity. The maintenance that has been enabled as a result of the solar farm development is supporting and preserving the country’s rich heritage, and also boosting the natural environment for wildlife.”
Anesco’s O&M team help preserve site of historic interest
Anesco’s operations and maintenance team is proud to be working closely with Historic England and other key partners, to manage the ongoing upkeep of a war time airfield in Somerset.
Anesco is committed to supporting the local communities in which it operates and is dedicated to sympathetic development that respects the local areas in which projects are located.
This approach has led to Anesco’s operations and maintenance team working closely with partners, including asset owner Ingenious Renewable Energy, public body Historic England, local suppliers and residents, to provide ongoing maintenance for a historic airfield, located where a solar farm has been developed.
The Historic England Heritage at Risk Team seek opportunities to support landowners in improving the condition of nationally important places and sites and were able to advise Anesco on the needs of the site and provide management advice for the owner and local contractors so that the site could be put into positive management as part of the solar farm project.
Where the future meets the past
The solar array at the Trickey Warren airfield site was developed in two phases, the most recent of which was completed in 2015. The installation has subsequently been purchased by Ingenious Renewable Energy Enterprises Limited.
The 4.63 MW solar farm generates enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of more than 1,400 homes. It benefits from long-term, predictable, inflation-linked revenue streams, including government-backed Feed in Tariff payments.
As well as managing the solar farm’s design and development, Anesco will be monitoring and maintaining the site for the 20-year lifetime of the project. This will ensure the installation continues to achieve the optimal return on investment. Additionally, as part of the solar farm’s maintenance contract, the team is also providing vital upkeep for the surrounding airfield and its structures.
A rich history
The site at Trickey Warren lies nine miles south of Taunton and many of its features have been designated as scheduled monuments. It contains structures that are some of the rarest and most well-preserved of their kind in the country. This includes the remains of the south western sector of the former airfield of RAF Culmhead, along with five fighter pens, support buildings and sections of the perimeter runways.
The site has a rich heritage. As well as being a base for World War II pilots, it was once a test site for Lancaster bombers; has appeared in wartime propaganda films and information; and operations staff from Bletchley Park are thought to have relocated to Trickey Warren at one point, to work from the bunkers.
Specialist maintenance of the historic site
Working under the guidance of Historic England, Anesco is now managing the ongoing maintenance of the site.
In recent years, the airfield had become very overgrown, with the fighter pens being particularly badly affected by tree and shrub growth. Following the development of the solar farm and the commencement of the maintenance contract, the area has now been reclaimed. Years of vegetation has been removed and ongoing plans are in place to keep the site stable and the vegetation under control.
The maintenance work that is taking place at Trickey Warren has led to several of the scheduled fighter pens being taken off the ‘at risk’ register, which is a huge achievement. Now the structures are clear of debris, bat boxes and grills have also been fitted, to actively support local wildlife.
The project also funded research and recording of the site, so that its history can be understood and shared with local people. A special open day was hosted to share the research and explore the site, with over 100 local people in attendance.
Historic England and local enthusiast groups are hopeful that one day funding may be achieved to convert the historic airfield watch office into a small museum that will further promote its history. The project has also enthused neighbouring owners of other parts of the site, to improve the condition of airfield heritage assets on their land.
A collaborative approach
The project shows how different parts of industry can work together for the greater good. With Anesco acting as developer and service provider; Ingenious, being the asset owner; specialist locally-based subcontractors working on site; and with the guidance of Historic England.
Together, these partners are improving the environment for future generations, by generating renewable energy and helping to reduce carbon emissions, while at the same time preserving the country’s heritage and an area of historical-importance.
Anesco’s in-house Operations & Maintenance (O&M) division helps optimise the performance of renewable assets. From a Network Operations Centre (NOC), the O&M team uses sophisticated software, AnescoMeter, to monitor the performance of the solar panels in real time, ensuring that any problems or dips in output are quickly identified and rectified. This ensures renewable installations continue to operate at their optimum capacity – achieving the greatest potential return on investment.
The service has grown to become one of the largest providers of operations and maintenance for renewable assets in the UK and is currently managing 763MW across 21,800 assets.
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