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