Solar Plant Appeal – Request For Funds

Many thanks to those of you who attended the Special Village Meeting in respect of the above. For those unable to attend, further information will be contained in a flyer, to be delivered to you in the next few days.

Donations to this important appeal can be made as set out below.

July 6 2022

Solar Plant New Application – 22/0948/FULEI

As you may be aware a further planning application for a Solar Plant has been resubmitted.

It is as important as ever to ensure that your concerns and objections are submitted to HBC before the deadline of 23rd July 2022.

Please send to: consult.planning@hertsmere.gov.uk
or by portal (www.hertsmere.gov.uk/planningsearch) which has a 5000 character limit
or by post to: Planning Department, Hertsmere Borough Council, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 1WA

Letchmore Heath Village Trust (LHVT) was established to promote high standards of planning and to secure the preservation and protection of features of historic or public interest in the area. Accordingly LHVT objects to this application for the following reasons:

  • This land has been deliberately protected by the Green Belt designation to prevent urban sprawl. The development would have a substantial visual impact on the land so that instead of views of agricultural land, residents and members of the public will be subjected to endless visual clutter, including a sea of solar panels, destroying the character of the area. The proposal will also add spatial clutter as it would permanently alter the openness of the Green Belt, to the detriment of its character and appearance. Any identified benefits would not amount to very special circumstances outweighing the harm caused, as required by the NPPF.
  • The proposals conflict with policies in the Local Plan.
  • There would be a significant level of harm to the setting of designated heritage assets which would not be outweighed by public benefit. In addition although only several heritage assets are referred to in the application there are actually 41 Listed buildings within 1 kilometre of the proposed site and not enough attention has been given to the effect on these.
  • A “temporary consent “of 35 years does not mitigate the loss of Green Belt. This length of time is to all intents and purposes a permanent use with a significant and detrimental impact on the openness of the Green Belt for an extended period of time. There is no confidence that these 320 acres, once lost, will ever be recovered as open Green Belt land.
  • The proposed development is not the best use of the land. Although solar energy is a public benefit, the proposal would result in the loss of many important existing public benefits. Government policy towards acceleration of carbon reduction should not override these considerations which are particularly inappropriate on Green Belt land in close proximity to London.
  • There will be a highly detrimental impact on 12 footpaths and bridleways across the site. The pedestrian routes have been regularly walked by local residents from Radlett, Letchmore Heath and Bushey for many years. They provided a vital resource for ‘lockdown’ people to safely exercise in an outdoor area. The 5 metre stand-off proposed on either side of public rights of way, in such close proximity to solar panels, will result in a tunnelling effect leading to a loss of openness and enjoyment of this much used network. The sheer size of the solar plant and its associated equipment will destroy the benefits that public rights of way offer people.
  • LHVT is very concerned that the proposal will lead to an increased risk of flooding elsewhere. On the previous, broadly similar, application (21/0050/FULEI) the Lead Local Flood Authority (Flood Risk & Drainage Team Hertfordshire County Council) actively objected to the application. Despite a revised Flood Risk Assessment submitted to the Local Planning Authority in April 2021, they still maintained their objection and recommended refusal. The NPPF requires that development should not increase the risk of flooding elsewhere.
  • The loss of productive agricultural land diminishes the important ability to maintain and enhance food security at a time when this is a national priority. The best use should be made of agricultural land, particularly adjacent to urban and heavily populated areas. Taking this land out of food production for the purpose of providing energy is wasteful and unnecessary when many other non-productive site opportunities for solar energy operations exist elsewhere.
  • The enhancement of biodiversity is insufficient to compensate for the loss of open Green Belt land.
  • The application fails to demonstrate that the impact of the proposals can be made acceptable to the residential community, as required by the NPPF. Whilst the NPPF provides that communities have a responsibility to help increase the use and supply of green energy, this does not mean that the need for renewable energy automatically overrides environmental protections. We have concerns relating to the likelihood of noise generated by inverters, potential fire hazards from the batteries and subsequent leeching of highly toxic gases and also concerns over the safety of flying activities at the Elstree Aerodrome, due to upward reflection of the sun on the solar panels.
  • Whilst it is recognised that renewable energy is an important requirement, the impact of these developments and whether they are in the right place is of paramount importance too. The adverse impact on the surrounding area’s landscape character, visual amenity and substantial loss of Green Belt renders the scheme unacceptable. The applicant’s Alternative Site Assessment, filed as a supporting document, is noted. However the applicant’s proposal is for a solar plant of such vast size that it will dwarf most other UK solar plants. It is therefore unsurprising that alternative sites for a proposal of this magnitude may be difficult to find. In addition to all of our submissions above, the proposal is simply too large.

HBC should stand by its previous decision and reject this new application.

LHVT Solar Plant Appeal Submission

LHVT object to the Solar Plant appeal for the following reasons: 

  • The degree of impact on the openness of the Green Belt is unacceptable and any identified benefits of the proposed development are insufficient to amount to very special circumstances which would outweigh the harm to the Green Belt. 
  • The impact and level of harm to designated Heritage Assets is significant. Furthermore, although only 7 heritage assets are referred to in the application there are actually 41 Listed buildings within 1 kilometre of the proposed site and insufficient attention has been given to the development’s effect on these. 
  • Any identified benefits of the purposed development overall do not outweigh the identified harm.
  • The impact of the proposed development on residential amenity and upon visual impact will be severe and is not agreed as being neutral.
  • The minimum 5 metre stand-off either side of all public rights of way is insufficient and will adversely impact both the openness and enjoyment of this much used network.
  • The proposals conflict with policies in the Local Plan and, being proposed on Green Belt, planning permission should not be granted.
  • The enhancement of biodiversity is insufficient to compensate for the loss of open Green belt land.
  • Government policy towards acceleration of carbon reduction should not override the above considerations which are particularly inappropriate on Green Belt land with very close proximity to London.
  • The proximity of the National Grid Elstree Substation to the site, and the fact that some of its pylons are already sited on the subject land may be a convenient commercial factor for the Appellant but should be entirely disregarded when assessing the merits of the Appeal itself.
  • The  Appellant has failed to demonstrate that the impact of its proposals has been made acceptable to the residential community as required by the National Planning Policy Framework and attention is drawn to the 1433 objections against the original application and the fact that no Councillors voted to support the application. 
  • Whilst it is recognised that renewable energy is an important requirement, the impact of these developments and whether they are in the right place is of paramount importance too. The adverse impact on the surrounding area’s landscape character, visual amenity and substantial loss of Green Belt renders the scheme unacceptable as is the fact that loss of productive agricultural land diminishes the important ability to maintain and enhance food security.

Government policy on Green Belt

GREEN BELT PROVISIONS FROM NATIONAL PLANNING POLICY FRAMEWORK

Protecting Green Belt land

Paragraphs 137 to 151

137. The government attaches great importance to Green Belts. The fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to prevent urban sprawl by keeping land permanently open; the essential characteristics of Green Belts are their openness and their permanence.

138. Green Belt serves 5 purposes:

(a) to check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;

(b) to prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;

(c) to assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;

(d) to preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and

(e) to assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

139. The general extent of Green Belts across the country is already established. New Green Belts should only be established in exceptional circumstances, for example when planning for larger scale development such as new settlements or major urban extensions. Any proposals for new Green Belts should be set out in strategic policies, which should:

(a) demonstrate why normal planning and development management policies would not be adequate;

(b) set out whether any major changes in circumstances have made the adoption of this exceptional measure necessary;

(c) show what the consequences of the proposal would be for sustainable development;

(d) demonstrate the necessity for the Green Belt and its consistency with strategic policies for adjoining areas; and

(e) show how the Green Belt would meet the other objectives of the Framework.

140. Once established, Green Belt boundaries should only be altered where exceptional circumstances are fully evidenced and justified, through the preparation or updating of plans. Strategic policies should establish the need for any changes to Green Belt boundaries, having regard to their intended permanence in the long term, so they can endure beyond the plan period. Where a need for changes to Green Belt boundaries has been established through strategic policies, detailed amendments to those boundaries may be made through non-strategic policies, including neighbourhood plans.

141. Before concluding that exceptional circumstances exist to justify changes to Green Belt boundaries, the strategic policy-making authority should be able to demonstrate that it has examined fully all other reasonable options for meeting its identified need for development. This will be assessed through the examination of its strategic policies, which will take into account the preceding paragraph, and whether the strategy:

(a) makes as much use as possible of suitable brownfield sites and underutilised land;

(b) optimises the density of development in line with the policies in chapter 11of this Framework, including whether policies promote a significant uplift in minimum density standards in town and city centres and other locations well served by public transport; and

(c) has been informed by discussions with neighbouring authorities about whether they could accommodate some of the identified need for development, as demonstrated through the statement of common ground.

142. When drawing up or reviewing Green Belt boundaries, the need to promote sustainable patterns of development should be taken into account. Strategic policy-making authorities should consider the consequences for sustainable development of channelling development towards urban areas inside the Green Belt boundary, towards towns and villages inset within the Green Belt or towards locations beyond the outer Green Belt boundary. Where it has been concluded that it is necessary to release Green Belt land for development, plans should give first consideration to land which has been previously-developed and/or is well-served by public transport. They should also set out ways in which the impact of removing land from the Green Belt can be offset through compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt land.

143. When defining Green Belt boundaries, plans should:

(a) ensure consistency with the development plan’s strategy for meeting identified requirements for sustainable development;

(b) not include land which it is unnecessary to keep permanently open;

(c) where necessary, identify areas of safeguarded land between the urban area and the Green Belt, in order to meet longer-term development needs stretching well beyond the plan period;

(d) make clear that the safeguarded land is not allocated for development at the present time. Planning permission for the permanent development of safeguarded land should only be granted following an update to a plan which proposes the development;

(e) be able to demonstrate that Green Belt boundaries will not need to be altered at the end of the plan period; and

(f) define boundaries clearly, using physical features that are readily recognisable and likely to be permanent.

144. If it is necessary to restrict development in a village primarily because of the important contribution which the open character of the village makes to the openness of the Green Belt, the village should be included in the Green Belt. If, however, the character of the village needs to be protected for other reasons, other means should be used, such as conservation area or normal development management policies, and the village should be excluded from the Green Belt.

145. Once Green Belts have been defined, local planning authorities should plan positively to enhance their beneficial use, such as looking for opportunities to provide access; to provide opportunities for outdoor sport and recreation; to retain and enhance landscapes, visual amenity and biodiversity; or to improve damaged and derelict land.

146. The National Forest and Community Forests offer valuable opportunities for improving the environment around towns and cities, by upgrading the landscape and providing for recreation and wildlife. The National Forest Strategy and an approved Community Forest Plan may be a material consideration in preparing development plans and in deciding planning applications. Any development proposals within the National Forest and Community Forests in the Green Belt should be subject to the normal policies for controlling development in Green Belts.

Proposals affecting the Green Belt

147. Inappropriate development is, by definition, harmful to the Green Belt and should not be approved except in very special circumstances.

148. When considering any planning application, local planning authorities should ensure that substantial weight is given to any harm to the Green Belt. ‘Very special circumstances’ will not exist unless the potential harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness, and any other harm resulting from the proposal, is clearly outweighed by other considerations.

149. A local planning authority should regard the construction of new buildings as inappropriate in the Green Belt. Exceptions to this are:

(a) buildings for agriculture and forestry;

(b) the provision of appropriate facilities (in connection with the existing use of land or a change of use) for outdoor sport, outdoor recreation, cemeteries and burial grounds and allotments; as long as the facilities preserve the openness of the Green Belt and do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it;

(c) the extension or alteration of a building provided that it does not result in disproportionate additions over and above the size of the original building;

(d) the replacement of a building, provided the new building is in the same use and not materially larger than the one it replaces;

(e) limited infilling in villages;

(f) limited affordable housing for local community needs under policies set out in the development plan (including policies for rural exception sites); and

(g) limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed land, whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would:

  • not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the existing development; or
  • not cause substantial harm to the openness of the Green Belt, where the development would re-use previously developed land and contribute to meeting an identified affordable housing need within the area of the local planning authority.

150. Certain other forms of development are also not inappropriate in the Green Belt provided they preserve its openness and do not conflict with the purposes of including land within it. These are:

(a) mineral extraction;

(b) engineering operations;

(c) local transport infrastructure which can demonstrate a requirement for a Green Belt location;

(d) the re-use of buildings provided that the buildings are of permanent and substantial construction;

(e) material changes in the use of land (such as changes of use for outdoor sport or recreation, or for cemeteries and burial grounds); and

(f) development, including buildings, brought forward under a Community Right to Build Order or Neighbourhood Development Order.

151. When located in the Green Belt, elements of many renewable energy projects will comprise inappropriate development. In such cases developers will need to demonstrate very special circumstances if projects are to proceed. Such very special circumstances may include the wider environmental benefits associated with increased production of energy from renewable sources.

CPRE Report on Hertsmere Local Plan

Full report by CPRE Hertfordshire (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) can be found here:

Key concerns with the Draft Plan are:

  1. Emphasis on economic growth at the expense of nature and the environment
  2. Lack of protection of Green Belt as a Strategic Objective for the Plan
  3. Overprovision of housing based on out-of-date data
  4. Failure to address climate change
  5. Underestimation of the opportunities for regeneration and reuse of previously developed land

Draft Local Plan

HERTSMERE BOROUGH COUNCIL DRAFT LOCAL PLAN

The Letchmore Heath Village Trust exists to protect and sustain quality of both the village and the lives of those who live there.

In addition to comments already submitted in respect of proposed development at Little Simpsons in Letchmore Heath (HEL 509), the Letchmore Heath Village Trust has the following objections to the Draft Local Plan:

  1. Unacceptable loss of Green Belt
  2. Residential overdevelopment in Hertsmere
  3. Lack of proper detail and planning for requisite infrastructure
  4. Industrial creep inside the Green belt

1. UNACCEPTABLE LOSS OF GREEN BELT

Proposals to build on Green Belt are unacceptable. The Prime Minister at his recent party conference stated that the new focus will be on boosting construction on brownfield sites, which have been previously developed and are less controversial locations for housebuilding and that green fields would not be built upon. The many objections to the Solar Plant development on Green Belt land and our Councilors’ overwhelming rejection of the application indicate clear local support for the Prime Minister’s position.

Taken together, HEL179, HEL180, HEL199, HEL219/252/HEL345 and HEL509 together with other unspecified proposals would mean over an additional 130 houses in Aldenham Parish villages. This is completely contrary to the stated aims of Green Belt policy which include safeguarding the countryside from encroachment, preserving the setting and special character of historic areas and checking unrestricted sprawl. These proposals also detract from the stated opportunities and benefits of the Green Belt which include providing opportunities for access to the open countryside for the urban population, the retention of attractive landscapes and the enhancement of landscapes, near to where people live as well as securing nature conservation interests and the retention of land in agricultural, forestry and related uses.

We strongly object to building on Green Belt particularly in an area which is so close to London. We do not believe that housing development on the Green Belt passes the “ very special circumstances” test – namely both a vital need for the specific development proposed, and that it could not be carried out equally successfully somewhere else, outside the Green Belt.

Residents are already bracing for either an appeal against the Solar Plant decision or a new proposal for a smaller scale solar plant. Whilst either would be very strongly opposed, any success by the applicants would cause further loss of Green Belt unaccounted for in the Local Plan.

2. RESIDENTIAL OVERDEVELOPMENT OF HERTSMERE

As an individual example, the proposed additional housing for Radlett is excessive. In percentage terms the number of new dwellings proposed for Radlett versus existing households is higher than Potters Bar, Shenley, Bushey and Borehamwood and is nearly 4 times more in percentage terms than South Mimms which has a similar number of existing households.

Collectively, it is likely to be unnecessary for so many houses to be built in Hertsmere as

a) The planning white paper itself proposed a new centralised system under which the government assesses housing need, land constraints, and other factors, and passes them on to planning authorities to implement as a mandatory target. It has been widely reported that this element of the white paper will be dropped when the reforms are finally published.

b) Additionally, the Housing Secretary has stated that he is revisiting the way housing targets are calculated. He has said “I think that some of the assumptions there are probably out of date”. The existing target formula focused more growth in high value and rural areas both of which are found in Hertsmere e.g. Radlett and Aldenham Parish villages.

Accordingly, the number of new homes set out in the Draft Local Plan will have to be reviewed and/or paused. The Council should proactively approach the Housing Department for urgent clarification on these issues before mandating any particular number of new dwellings in the Local Plan.

3. INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES

The current infrastructure in Hertsmere cannot cope with building on the scale proposed in the Draft Local Plan and the Plan itself does very little to address this issue apart from vague references. As an example, Hertsmere acknowledges that “existing pressures on key services within Radlett such as transport, education and healthcare can be partly attributed to the wider catchment area that its facilities serve.” Yet, there are scant proposals for improving these services.

Transport

  • the proposals will cause horrendous traffic congestion on many key roads across the borough, e.g. A41 and A414 and will also cause unacceptable additional congestion on already overused country lanes- eg the roads around Letchmore Heath and Round Bush
  • the Plan contains many references to sustainable transport strategies but no material detail. Without that detail, how can Hertsmere be confident that any new development can be supported by sustainable transport?
  • there seems to be an assumption that given the right infrastructure people will walk or cycle to work whereas the reality is that given its proximity to London many Hertsmere residents simply don’t work locally and can’t walk or cycle to work.
  • Welwyn Hatfield BC and St Albans DC both share boundaries with Hertsmere’s proposed new development of thousands of homes at Bowman’s Cross and have raised concerns over transport difficulties. Welwyn’s draft response said Hertsmere should consider the potential infrastructure implications, adding: “This should include implications on the A414 of bringing forward such a significant site. There is a lack of detail in the consultation document of the proposed sustainable transport links and whether the necessary supporting services and facilities can be provided …”

Schools
The plan is overly optimistic about the availability of school places throughout Hertsmere

  • The proposed residential development of Radlett and the Aldenham villages is substantial but no new secondary schools are proposed. Only a minor class expansion of primary school provision is proposed. The Council seem to suggest that a new secondary school proposed for Bushey will be sufficient but much new housing is proposed there too and there seems to be a naïve assumption that Radlett parents will continue to use private schools although this cannot be assured and is unlikely anyway in the case of the affordable home occupants.
  • Regarding the proposals at Bowman’s Cross, Welwyn are concerned about a section of Hertsmere’s report mentioning Chancellor’s School, which is in their borough and which Hertsmere is anticipating its own students will attend. Welwyn has made it clear that the school will be required to meet demand from their own emerging Local Plan and have voiced their concern about the lack of school provision by Hertsmere.

Medical
There are plenty of references in the Plan to post pandemic requirements but no reference to the increased pressure on medical facilities which is daily headline news. Even, if as hoped, this eventually subsides, any extra capacity provided will be quickly absorbed by the increased population of Hertsmere residents. Specific new medical facility proposals need to be included and these need to be in place before material residential development starts.

Utilities
These are already under heavy strain, with constant piecemeal repairs, just to serve existing settlements. There is no specific proposal in the plan to address this issue.

4. INDUSTRIAL CREEP INSIDE GREEN BELT

Taken as a whole, there is a good deal of industrial proliferation proposed to land on the doorstep of the Aldenham parish villages including Letchmore Heath. Full implementation of this plan, particularly when taken in context of the proposed residential development of the villages, would spoil the unique look and feel of the villages, replacing open agricultural land with a more industrial vista.

  • The designation of the Bio Products Laboratory space as a Rural Employment Area combined with the additional homes proposed to front Dagger Lane will exacerbate existing traffic issues there and take away loss of Green Belt status which has been the only protection against overbuilding of industrial units in that area.
  • We are concerned that Elstree Aerodrome is to become a Special Policy Area losing its Green Belt status and particularly that operational-related development will be supported. Any development should not increase the airborne operations and the consequential environmental/noise impact that would result nor should it materially increase the use of the approach roads – particularly Dagger Lane.
  • The above combined with the proposal that Lismirrane Industrial Estate loses its Green Belt status and will be allocated another 5.2 hectares of land creates too much industrialization in our rural vicinity.

For the reasons set out above, the Letchmore Heath Village Trust strongly opposes the current Draft Local Plan

LHVT.
 
19 November 2021

HEL 509 – Little Simpsons, Letchmore Heath

HEL 509 – Little Simpsons, Letchmore Heath
Proposal to Build 10 New Houses

The Letchmore Heath Village Trust exists to protect and sustain quality of both the village and the lives of those who live there. The Trust wishes to make the following comments and objections to proposals to build 10 new houses at Little Simpsons.

  1. GREEN BELT. This site is agricultural land in Letchmore Heath – a conservation area within the green belt. Both should be respected.
  2. SCALE. The village is a small community of about 100 houses, some dating back to the 16th century, including many small cottages. This proposal would overnight increase the size (number of homes) of the village by 10%, with the increase in population likely to be both unsustainable and considerably more.
  3. ACCESS. Common Lane and Grange lane – two of three access routes to the village – are single track, high banked with occasional passing places. As most access is by car, these lanes are often blocked with traffic – including lorries and commercial vehicles – a situation exacerbated by school traffic to Aldenham and Habs. The addition of 10 new houses with (up to) 20 more cars spilling onto Common Lane means more congestion and safety problems.
  4. SERVICES. There are no shops or services in the village bar an excellent pub, currently being redeveloped. All shops and services have to be reached by car in surrounding communities, often in Radlett.
  5. TRANSPORT. As there is no local public transport, this potential development would conflict with one of the key objectives of the Local Plan: “There will be a reduced need to travel, with homes, jobs and other day to day facilities easily reached by foot, cycle and public transport. People will have a real choice of sustainable travel options.” As the Local Plan further highlights (page 196): “To achieve sustainable growth, and control road congestion, appropriate measures need to be taken to reduce car dependency and manage traffic levels”. This proposal would apparently fly directly in the face of this laudable objective.
  6. DEVELOPMENT. Hertsmere Borough Council decided on 23 April 2019 to allow replacement of an existing agricultural building on this site with an office building. In their decision, the Council stipulated that remaining agricultural building be permanently retained for agricultural use including the land within it for the purpose of ‘protecting the openness of the Green Belt and the appearance of the conservation area consistent with Core Strategy (2013) policies SP1, CS13, CS14 and Site Allocations and Development Management Policies Plan (2016) policies SADM26 and SADM29’.
  7. CHARACTER. There are few local communities which have the character and charm of Letchmore Heath – it is a quintessential English village. This should be protected for future generations and not sacrificed to help meet current and changing housing development targets.

As a footnote, it should be noted that if HEL 509 was included in Council plans, construction traffic could not use New Road. Clear plans for safe access via Common Lane (as set out in the Draft Plan) would need to be offered for consideration – a considerable challenge given a narrow lane and local topography.


For the main reasons set out above, the Letchmore HeathVillage Trust strongly opposes the inclusion of HEL 509 in Council development plans.

LHVT.
November 2021.

Drive Safe

Support Drive Safe!

https://www.hertscommissioner.org/community-drivesafe-scheme-hertfordshire

The Village Trust is preparing to introduce the Herts Police Commissioner’s Drive Safe initiative to Letchmore Heath.

The Drive Safe initiative aims to assess traffic speed in the village, to create driver awareness and to enforce the speed limit by identifying and reporting speeding vehicles to the police who will in the first instance issue a written warning and for repeat offenders, arrange a personal visit by a police officer to their home.

The Village Trust is providing the required petition of support for this initiative but instead of collecting information on your doorstep, we’d like you to email us your name, address, telephone number and email address – we’ll add your information to the petition and submit to the Commissioner’s office electronically.

If you are in favour of this initiative, please email your contact information to news@letchmoreheath.com .

WHAT’S HAPPENING? Hilfield Solar Power Plant (Application 21/0050/FULEI)

The objectives of this note are to update on activity during the last couple of weeks and to emphasise and support the submission of comments and concerns that need to be sent to Hertsmere Borough Council (HBC) before 24th February.

Whilst the priority is to maximise the number of objections received by HBC, we have also been researching the use of consultant and expert advice. When it recently became clear that Aldenham Parish Council were considering the same issues (we are not alone!) the Trust contacted the Chairman of the APC Planning Committee to seek agreement to support and use their consultant report. As mentioned in What’s Happening 1, the idea of having multitudinous consultants spraying advice in different directions is inadvisable. APC have now agreed and confirmed that this report (by DLA Planning Consultants) will be available to us and others. Indeed the report is now in the public domain and can be accessed and read at: https://aldenham-pc.gov.uk/document-category/15th-february-2021/ This information has been shared with other groups including Sharon Woolf’s “Save Our Green Belt” campaign and the Radlett Society and Green Belt Association. Give it a read – and if needed use it to support your submission to HBC.

Our friends at Bhaktivedanta Manor plan to use the DLA report to frame their objections, and Greg is encouraging their potentially voluminous support.

For those who Zoomed in to the APC Planning Committee Meeting on Monday afternoon you will have heard the unanimous support of that Committee in opposing the HSPP plans.

Following discussions with the Bursar, The Aldenham Foundation (Aldenham School) have decided to join LHVT in opposing the development plans. The submission subsequently sent to HBC was submitted therefore on behalf of LHVT and The Aldenham Foundation. The fact that the school wishes to help and support LHVT underlines their continuing support for the local community. Not sure of where Habs are on this??

The Trust has written to The Senior Planning Officer (Mr. Max Saunders) pointing out that key planning documents (60 pages of Glint and Glare Report appendices) appear to be inaccessible and unavailable – even though there are more than 1100 pages in total in the proposal. Whilst receipt of message is confirmed, a response is awaited.

Many of you (?) will have seen the posting from the “Save Our Green Belt” Group (Sharon Woolf) who are working their socks off on this thing. This could help ease the route to making submissions. As at Tuesday afternoon (17th) submissions to HBC stood at: Objections: 489 and Support: 63. Many believe that the objection number needs to be closer to 1000!

To repeat the submission options, HBC guidance is as follows – make comments by:

  1. Using their website http://www.hertsmere.gov.uk/comments quoting the planning application reference number: 21/0050/FULEI.
  2. Emailing your comments to: consult.planning@hertsmere.gov.uk
  3. Writing to: Planning and Economic Development Unit, Hertsmere Borough Council, Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 1WA quoting Planning Application 21/0050/FULEI
  4. https://www.stopthesolarplant.co.uk/

If you need help on the content of your submission, please contact Greg at gsrogers@gmail.com , or if you need assistance on how to best submit your response, contact Mike at micheal.pickford@btinternet.com

As you know:

EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO GIVE THEIR VIEWS – IT IS NOT LIMITED TO HOUSEHOLDS.

Please ensure that this message is passed to friends and neighbours who may not access the Village Drum or the internet.

All submissions need to be received at HBC by 24TH FEBRUARY.

LHVT

18th February 2021

 

WHAT’S HAPPENING? Hilfield Solar Power Plant

The idea of this information sheet is to update Letchmore Heathens on change and hopefully progress towards effective objection to Elstree Green Ltd / Enso Energy’s plans for a 320 acre Solar Power Plant. There is lots of activity from a number of local groups, and where possible LHVT is seeking to work together in support of a common objective. These groups include the Radlett Society and Green Belt Association (RS&GBA) and Sharon Woolf’s Radlett Facebook Group (RFBG).

The advice we have been given is that there will need to be a two pronged attack on this proposal. The first of these – and the priority right now – is to encourage as many locals as possible to submit their comments and concerns to Hertsmere Borough Council. To remind you, the planning application number is: 21/0050/FULEI, and all submissions have to be received by 24th FEBRUARY 2021.

Should you wish to use and reinforce any of the key points of objection, these are available on the website above – there are separate postings from LHVT, RS&GBA and RFBG. You will notice (hopefully) that there is a boring consistency and commonality between all three. None of this should stop you adding further concerns or expressing common points in a personal way.

HBC guidance on making comments is by:

  1. Using their website hertsmere.gov.uk/comments quoting the planning application reference number: 21/0050/FULEI.
  2. Emailing your comments to: planning@hertsmere.gov.uk
  3. Writing to: Planning and Economic Development Unit, Hertsmere Borough Council, Civic Offices, Elstree Way, Borehamwood, Herts WD6 1WA quoting Planning Application 21/0050/FULEI

If you need help on the content of your submission, please contact Greg at gsrogers@gmail.com , or if you need assistance on how to best submit your response, contact Mike at micheal.pickford@btinternet.com

It is clear that, contrary to some comment, numbers of objections are vitally important. The planning decision makers will take note of the content and number of objections. And May 2021 is Council Election time! It’s also worth noting that everyone can submit their comments – submissions do not have to be restricted to one per household. It may be that members of the same family have different concerns or comments. THE MORE SUBMISSIONS THE BETTER!

Many informed commentators believe that the single most effective objection rests on the issue of green belt land being used for the Solar Power Plant. The active campaign led by Sharon Woolf and Abigail Levy – with over 500 supporters on the RFBG – is under the banner of: Save Our Green Belt – Stop the Solar Plant. You will shortly) receive their leaflet through your letterbox – as well as seeing their banners.

I mentioned that there were two prongs to this work. The second is to commission expert planning advice together with possible legal counsel. It’s understood that this approach is being considered by a number of groups as well as Councils. LHVT will keep in close contact with these bodies, as we would wish to work together rather than see a multitude of different experts spraying advice in different directions. It will be essential to not only select the right consultants, but to make effective use of their advice at the right time. It would appear that those closer to the planning process believe that decision making after 24thFebruary may be convoluted – witness other contentious planning proposals such as the Radlett Rail Freight Terminal. This could run!

Having said this, in the last couple of days, LHVT has ascertained the names of two planning consultants with a good local reputation who, if needed we could approach and if appropriate commission. The time would then come to test the pockets of those who can provide financial back up to make this work. No problem?!

Two last points. It is recognized that not everyone will agree with what is written above. There will of course be those who wish to support construction of the solar plant. And there will be those who think that we are going too fast / slowly or down the wrong route. If you have comments you wish to make please let us know.

Secondly, it would appear that we are kicking uphill. The proposers of this “horrendous” scheme have had months and years to prepare, taken advice from countless experts, have experience of the planning process, formed alliances with other key parties – all before preparing and submitting their plans. On the other hand, we (Joe Public) are expected to organize our responses, take advice, hire and effectively use experts and consultants in a matter of days. Funny old world.

We’ll post What’s Happening – Number 2 when there’s something to say.

LHVT.

4th February 2021

If you need to contact us:

Alan: alanhlambert@btinternet.com               Greg: gsrogers@gmail.com

Alison: alison.rose111@gmail.com                Linda: lindalambert30@btinternet.com

Andy: andy@cappuccini.net                           Mike: micheal.pickford@btinternet.com

Derek: dmoran@live.co.uk                             Naz: n.mohammed1@btinternet.com

Gareth: gareth@tvgltd.com

LHVT response to Hilfield Solar Power Plant

Letchmore Heath Village Trust response to Hertsmere Borough Council concerning:

HILFIELD SOLAR POWER PLANT

Planning Application Number: 21/0050/FULEI

The Letchmore Heath Village Trust recognises that national and local targets to generate cleaner, greener electricity will lead in some part to solar power.

The Hilfield Solar Plant proposals raise serious questions and concerns. These include:

  1. Greenbelt. The Greenbelt was established for many good reasons, including the separation and protection of communities of all sizes – small villages to major cities. This conversion of greenbelt land to what can be described as light industrial use – land covered in solar panels, transformers, batteries and other ancillary equipment – is greenbelt lost in perpetuity. There will be nothing to halt the merging of villages, towns and the creeping urban sprawl of Greater London. The loss of this protective barrier will blight future generations. The visual impact is unthinkable.
  2. Scale. This is a massive area of land and will be the largest solar plant in the region. The benefit of solar power has to be assessed against the loss of 320 acres of productive agricultural land and countryside in the green belt.
  3. Local Amenities. This area of Hertfordshire countryside has many footpaths and rights of access – particularly in the “Eastern Parcel” of this proposal. Notwithstanding the generous proposals to widen and maintain footpaths, the prospect of walking between wire fences through fields covered with solar panels over 10 feet high is Orwellian. The mental and emotional cost of being unable to walk and exercise in recognisable countryside is immeasurable.
  4. Noise Disruption. Electrical storage and transmission equipment is noisy – as witnessed by available recorded evidence. With multiple (15) inverters proposed, noise levels would be intrusive and unacceptable. In addition, noise and traffic disruption during the construction phases, with thousands of lorry movements (through narrow roads), has the potential to create noisy chaos.
  5. Glint and Glare. The principal concern is around Elstree Aerodrome which is used by light aircraft and helicopters, many on flying school and training flights. The potential danger of glint and glare from solar panels, particularly on inexperienced and trainee pilots, should not be ignored.
  6. Environmental Impact. The replacement of green fields and productive food producing agricultural land with “black belt” solar panels, inverters and transformers will have an inevitable and negative impact on animal and bird life.
  7. Temporary Development. Once the “temporary” occupation of this land ceases in 35 years, what happens? Who will manage, execute and (critically) pay for the removal of redundant hardware and restore the landscape?

Letchmore Heath Village Trust.

February 2021

Map of area where Solar Power Plant is proposed.  Around 125,000 solar panels would be located in the two green coloured areas

HILFIELD SOLAR FARM and BATTERY STORAGE FACILITY

The Trust recognizes that national and local targets to generate cleaner, greener electricity will lead, in some part, to solar power.

The Hilfield Solar Farm proposals raise serious questions and concerns. These include:

  1. Scale. It is proposed convert the use of 123 hectares (over 300 acres) of agricultural land to solar power generation. This will radically change the nature of the local countryside. Given that this single installation will triple the borough’s green energy generation, the loss of so much agricultural land in one area is excessive.
  2. Greenbelt. The local area will be dominated by solar panels. England’s green and pleasant land will be lost for generations – probably forever. Lost farming land could lead to increased building and construction on greenbelt fields.
  3. Visual Impact. Solar panels 3 metres in height can not be described as attractive. They will be a blight on the landscape. It is essential that if built, that these are kept a minimum distance (20 metres) from roads and established pathways.
  4. Temporary Development. This label is misleading. A 35 year change of use from agricultural to solar generation will never be reversed. It is greenbelt land lost forever.
  5. Solar Farm. To describe this proposal as a solar “farm” is a misnomer. This is land being used not for farming but for industrial power generation.
  6. History. Although working with partners, Enso Energy is a new company who may be unable to deal with operational and other issues that will arise.
  7. Footpaths and Wildlife. There are assurances that footpaths will be maintained and wildlife protected and even enhanced. There is profound skepticism concerning these guarantees.
  8. Construction. The building and construction programme will be chaotic and disruptive on already busy country lanes. Thousands of movements of heavy lorries could cause misery, danger and delay.

Planning authorities and villagers should consider the points above when coming to decision. This is a massive development whose scale will disrupt and change local countryside in perpetuity. Solar development does not have to be on this scale. 

Letchmore Heath Village Trust.

October 2020.