Go-ahead for one but not two solar farms near Wellingborough

Councillors said the two solar farm plans were very different
Councillors said the two solar farm plans were very different

The go-ahead has been given for one but not two solar farms in villages near Wellingborough.

Councillors said the two schemes for sites in Little Harrowden and Mears Ashby could not have been more different and they took each one on its own merits before making their decision.

The first plan from JBM Solutions Limited was for 75,000 solar panels which would produce enough electricity to power approximately 4,150 homes from land at Stonebrig Lane in Hardwick Road, Little Harrowden.

Members of Wellingborough Council’s planning committee heard from nine speakers on the plans recommended for approval on Wednesday night.

But numerous concerns were raised, including it would be visible from various locations, would affect the life of people living close by, the site is not suitable, other sites are better suited and it would need substantial screening.

One farmer addressed the meeting to say he and two others own part of the access road to the site and would block it if the solar farm was approved.

Mr Reynolds said: “There’s no way in or no way out.”

Bob Coles, who was born in Little Harrowden and has lived most of his life in the village, said the plans should be refused and said: “The Stonebrig area of our parish which is more than five miles long is very much cherished and is enjoyed by parishioners and the general public.”

He added that putting a solar farm on the land would ‘prove to be a disaster.’

Members of the committee also had their reservations.

Cllr Malcolm Waters said: “It’s too big in a small area.”

Cllr Malcolm Ward was concerned by the screening and fencing required and said: “I think it would be very hard to shelter it no matter how hard you try to grow things.”

The committee went on to refuse it before considering plans for a solar farm on land off Sywell Road in Mears Ashby.

This was for 33,500 solar panels and was also recommended for approval by planning officers.

Only the applicant, Jo Wall, spoke on this before councillors had their say.

Cllr Peter Morrall said: “You couldn’t have two more different schemes on the same subject.”

And added: “I would be very happy to second this particular one and would be very pleased to see it producing electricity to help this country.”

Cllr Paul Bell said: “This is an improved scheme.”

Vice chairman of the committee Cllr Martin Griffiths said the main difference between the two schemes was the first plan would have needed additional screening and landscaping while the location of the other plan meant it was already well screened.

Councillors went on to vote and were unanimous in their decision to approve the Mears Ashby plan.