Solar farm planned near Grantham is 'slap bang in the middle of beautiful countryside and will spoil everybody's life'
Villagers have voiced their opposition against plans for a solar farm in open countryside east of Grantham.
The proposal would see the construction of a 67-hectare (165-acre) solar farm near the villages of Pickworth, Walcot and Newton.
It is anticipated that a solar farm of up to 50MW export would be developed on the land west of Braceby Road, potentially powering approximately 15,000 homes annually for 40 years.
Chairman of Pickworth Parish Council Ian Roberts said: “We’re marshalling opinion in the village to oppose the building of solar farms over there, because it’s a very beautiful area and lots of people use it for walking and cycling and so on.
“It will completely ruin the views in the countryside, despite what the developers say about putting up hedges and so on. The topography of the land is such that they’d have to put in 50-foot high hedges to conceal some of it.
“I think pretty well everybody is against this, because it’s slap bang in the middle of some beautiful countryside and will spoil everybody’s life, particularly while they’re building it.
“There’s plenty of sites that would be far more appropriate around the district.”
The site lies within the buffer zone of the Sapperton and Pickworth Woods Site of Special Scientific Interest, 450m south-west of the site. Six ancient woodlands also lie within 1.5km of the site, including Newton Wood, Haceby Great Wood, and Haceby Little Wood to the north, and Sapperton South Wood and Pickworth Wood to the south.
As well as this, a number of heritage assets lie within 1km of the site including 10 Grade II-listed buildings and the Grade I-listed Church of St Botolph in Newton.
A number of listed buildings and a scheduled monument are located in Walcott, 1.2km to the east of the site, including the Grade I-listed Church of St Nicholas and the Medieval Fishing Ponds monument. Listed buildings in Pickworth are also noted, including the Grade I-listed Church of St Andrew.
Nick Davison, a resident of Newton, is concerned by the plans. He said: “Whereas no one is against solar energy as a green alternative power source, they need to be placed in appropriate sites.
“The drive to place solar farms in any part of the countryside that can accept a number of concrete bases to hold the 3m high photovoltaic panels, security fences and CCTV surveillance is out of control!
“It appears the drive to industrialise the countryside under the banner of ‘green initiatives’ is seriously missing the point, as the country we live in and are trying to protect with renewable energy sources will no longer be there – being covered in photovoltaic panels.
“The solar farm’s footprint will have a devastating effect on the unspoilt historic and picturesque countryside, covering a very significant proportion of the land that lies between four historic villages and conservation areas.”
The maximum height of the solar panels above ground level would be three metres, with the bottom of the panels a minimum of 80cm above ground level and in rows with approximately three metres of space from front to back, so land can remain in agricultural use, for example as sheep grazing.
A number of small buildings would also be built as part of the development.
Native species of hedges and trees would be planted along exposed boundaries of the site, at a minimum of three metres in height in a bid to shield the site.
The applicant said: “In terms of landscape and visual effects, whilst the proposals are likely to have an impact on the landscape, the impact is not anticipated to be significant and the impacts can be sufficiently understood and mitigated through a landscape and visual impact assessment.
“It is considered that the distance between residential dwellings and the site, together with the existing and proposed new native species rich hedges and trees along the boundaries of the site, would sufficiently screen the proposals and mitigate against landscape and visual impacts.”