Village will be ‘suffocated’ by solar farms

Site of a proposed solar farm near Hardwick
Site of a proposed solar farm near Hardwick

Residents in a conservation village near Wellingborough are angry about plans to build a solar farm nearby.

A planning application has been submitted to Wellingborough Council by Pegasus Group, on behalf of JBM Solutions Ltd, to put up 75,000 solar panels on land off Stonebrig Lane, about half a mile from the village of Hardwick.

Resident Ebbe Dinesen said: “Hardwick has about 30 houses.

“If this proposal goes ahead as well as the planned solar park at Mears Ashby, the village will have a total of 135 acres of solar fields with approximately 135,000 solar panels right on our doorstep.

“The village will be suffocated by solar panels.”

The land earmarked for the solar farm is close to popular footpaths and bridleways, including some used for the Waendel Walk.

The application states that the solar farm will have no visual impact, but villagers disagree and say because of its design, with the panels mounted above the ground and surrounded by a two-metre high security fence with CCTV cameras mounted on four-metre high poles, the site will “look like a prison yard”.

Mr Dinesen added that the poles “are bound to harm the visual impact of the landscape and the fence will be an intrusion to the open countryside”.

He also argues that the plan does not take into account the most recent Government policy on solar energy, which states that “local communities must be willing partners in solar expansion; not just consulted but respected and, where possible, financial partners in local projects”.

A public exhibition about the plans resulted in 31 responses. Of those, nine supported the plan, 19 objected to it and there were three whose opinions “were not clear”. Mr Dinesen said that included in this last category was a letter from Hardwick villagers which said the feeling among residents who attended a meeting about the application was one of “overwhelming opposition”.

David Cramer, of JBM Solutions, said: “We hosted a public exhibition in February to allow residents to provide feedback, which resulted in improvements to the scheme. We have since submitted our planning application and await a decision by Wellingborough Council.”

He added that the 18.75MW scheme will generate enough energy to supply about 10 per cent of domestic households in Wellingborough.

Braybrooke plan is unveiled

Plans to build a huge solar farm on land near Braybrooke have been submitted to Kettering Council. The plans, for 125 acres of solar photovoltaic panels on land between the A6 and the railway line, were submitted by Ecus Ltd.

It is estimated the solar farm will generate enough energy to supply more than 6,000 homes. The panels will be mounted on metal frames up to three metres high.

A spokesman for Kettering Council said: “Ecus Ltd have submitted a screening and scoping opinion for the site. The local planning authority has responded, requesting that any future planning application is accompanied by an environmental impact assessment covering matters as outlined in the issued scoping opinion, application reference KET/2014/0281.”