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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Footpaths and Wildlife. There are assurances that footpaths will be maintained and wildlife protected and even enhanced. There is profound skepticism concerning these guarantees.
- 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.