A group of villagers filled Lenton church on Wednesday evening to voice their anger at plans to build a 245-acre solar farm near their homes.
Energy firm PS Renewables gave a presentation to villagers from Lenton, Ingoldsby and the surrounding area on its plans to build what could potentially be the largest solar farm built on agricultural land in the UK.
Frank Dekker, of PS Renewables, told the meeting that four properties would overlook the site, but about 12 people in the church put their hands up to say their properties would overlook the solar farm. Mr Dekker promised to visit the properties of anybody who had concerns.
Mr Dekker said his company would always choose brownfield sites over greenfield ones but he said there were no suitable brownfield sites in the area. The company has already agreed a connection to the electricity grid with Western Power Distribution at Burton Coggles if the solar farm is approved.
Asked why his company had to build a solar farm at Osgodby, Mr Dekker said it was difficult to find sites where the electricity grid had the capacity to take the extra power. He did admit that “it’s a lot of solar panels”.
PS Renewables plans to invest £60 million in the site with a 30-year lease from the landowner, a farmer.
Leader of opposition group Scorchio, Josephine Morris-Turner, said most of the opponents, including herself, were not against solar farms, but the Osgodby plan was too big.
Opponents said it would affect house prices and it would be a waste of “pristine” agricultural land which would be better used for food production. Protester David Millichap, of Lenton, said solar farms were “grossly ineffective,” supplying only 11 per cent of their generating capacity. Mr Dekker told the meeting that 80 per cent of the energy produced by the farm would make it into the grid.
The land is owned by farmer Charles Adcock, of Grange Farm, who was approached by PS Renewables to put the solar farm on his land. He told the Journal he sympathised with the villagers’ concerns, but added: “But there is no demand for what I am producing. Nobody wants what I am producing in abundance but they do want energy. I see this as a diversification. I appreciate it’s large scale. We are planning to graze sheep around the panels. The wheat I am producing supports very little wildlife whereas with the solar farm there will be tufty grass around the panels and wildlife areas and margins supporting insects and smaller wildlife. There is increasing demand for electricity in Grantham. More and more houses are going to be built here. I have got to look after my family and my business and the next generations.”
For details on the planned solar farm at Osgodby go to mylocalsolarpark.com
Grantham MP Nick Boles visited the site of the proposed solar farm on Friday and met Mrs Morris-Turner and other opponents of the proposal.
Mr Boles has told the Journal previously:“I do not support the proliferation of large scale solar energy plants on open farmland in the countryside. And nor does the government planning guidance which I signed off as planning minister. The guidance is very clear. “The deployment of large-scale solar farms can have a negative impact on the rural environment, particularly in undulating landscapes.” It encourages “the effective use of land by focussing large scale solar farms on previously developed and non agricultural land, provided that it is not of high environmental value.”
After Wednesday’s meeting Mrs Morris-Turner said: “This is not an easy endeavour and I fear that the road ahead is going to be arduous in the extreme. Our communities are, on the one hand, in serious danger of becoming divided within their own boundaries as this scenario plays out, whilst, on the other hand, they are collectively coming together in a way I most certainly have not seen in the 10 years we have lived in this lovely, lovely part of the UK.
She added: “Being ex-RAF, my husband I both, we have lived in many places, but this area is hypnotically gentle, with calming vistas and an abundance of wildlife which exceeds, by far, any of my previous locations. All of those, by dint of being on airfields, have not been in built-up areas, but the tranquility of this part of the Southern Uplands is particularly rich and precious.”