Solar farm on disused Second World war airfield near Kettering will get planning decision next week

The plan to put thousands of panels on the land owned by Boughton Estates is recommended for approval next week

Wednesday, 16th September 2020, 8:40 am
The solar farm could produce enough energy to power more than 11,000 homes. (pixaby image)

A plan to create a huge solar farm on a disused Second World War airfield could be approved next week.

Kettering Council’s planning officers are recommending that Elgin Energy’s scheme to install thousands of solar panels on the former airfield in Grafton Underwood be given approval by the authority’s planning committee.

Last year, when the plan was first suggested by landowner Boughton Estates, the Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust came out against it with member Kenneth Bannerman saying the plan for the former RAF Grafton Underwood was a ‘slap in the face’ and airfields like it should be preserved.

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The report that will be discussed by councillors on September 22 says: “The proposal would contribute significantly, toward meeting national targets concerning the derivation of energy from renewable sources, reducing carbon emissions and mitigating climate change. It would also contribute toward local commitments and help to increase the security and diversity of the national electricity supply. These are benefits which carry a great deal of weight in favour of the proposed development. Some limited weight to the biodiversity and drainage enhancements of the site can also be applied. Weighing all of the relevant material considerations together, it is considered that the substantial weight of the benefits that would accrue from the proposed development would be sufficient to overcome the minor nature of the visual harm identified and temporary loss of the site’s BMV agricultural land.”

Five residents from Grafton Underwood have objected to the scheme. Reasons for objecting include the size of the farm and its visual impact on the area.

Last year Rachael Gladstone-Brown, estate manager at Boughton Estates, said following planning consultation feedback sight lines from the village’s Second World War memorial would be protected. As well as being an RAF base the airfield was also used by the US Air Force in the 1940s.

If approved the farm on the 68-hectare site will take three to four months to build and the site will have a thirty-year permission dated from the first day energy is transported from the site. It will be unmanned and should provide 38MW of energy, which is enough to power 11,400 homes every year.

Recommended planning conditions include no construction outside of the weekday hours of 8am to 6pm and Sundays from 8.30am to 1.30pm and that the applicant should have a construction traffic management plan in place before work starts.

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