Plans approved for creation of solar farm near Grantham that can power 15,000 homes
An application for a 49.9MW solar farm near Grantham has been was unanimously approved.
The solar farm, set to be built on land south of the A1 near Foston, was approved by all 11 councillors at Wednesday's South Kesteven District Council planning committee meeting.
With the development set to create enough renewable energy to power 15,000 homes, the subsequent reduction of CO2 emissions stands at an estimated 21,500 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
The solar farm will be built on the site, which is over 85 hectares in area, with the land being returned to its original agricultural use after 40 years.
With the panels built at least 80cm above the ground, the proposal includes plans to allow sheep to graze on the field and the growth of wild flowers.
The substation connecting the solar farm to the grid is proposed further north of the site towards the village of Westborough, where there are existing pylons.
The proposal includes plans to increase the hedgerow on the boundary to minimise the visual impact of the solar farm, with the maximum height of the panels set to be 2.8m.
However, concerns were raised by Foston residents over the visual impact of the solar farm.
James Bliss, a Foston resident whose property would overlook the development, said: “Whilst not opposed to the development of green energy, the impact of such infrastructure should be minimised for those communities who have to live with these consequences in their daily lives.
“Our primary concern is to ensure that the effective screening is put in place to minimise the visual impact and glint and glare on our homes and those of other residents in the village and that this should form part of the planning approval process."
The applicant’s agent, Peter Grubb of Savill’s, responded to the concerns. He said: “We are looking at some significant in-field planting along the northern boundary of the site, which borders the A1. This will include some tree planting and growing up the existing hedgerow."
Principal planning officer Phil Jordan's report stated that before any solar panels are installed, details of the proposed new hedgerow and any strengthening of existing hedgerow planting will need to be provided in writing to the Local Planning Authority. He also made an adjustment to include the explicit mention of tree planting in this condition, while giving assurances that he would continue to liaise with residents about the visual impact of the development.
Councillor Paul Wood, of the Viking Ward, confirmed that he had negotiated a substantial community grant for the parish councils (Foston, Long Bennington and Westborough and Dry Doddington) affected by the development.
He said: “The applicant has indeed carried out excellent consultation with all the parishes and has responded well to requests from these parishes for further meetings and information.
"I would also like to confirm that I acted on behalf of the parishes and carried out negotiations with the applicant regarding a community grant. This community grant has been well received by the parishes."
Coun Ian Selby, Grantham Harrowby Ward, said: “We must do all we can to help protect the environment for future generations and it is vital that we play our part here in South Kesteven to help the wider environment."