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Massive solar farm in Rushcliffe gets green light

A huge solar farm will be built on fields in Rushcliffe after councillors unanimously agreed to the plans.

The solar farm could power up to 14,000 homes and will be built on a 60-hectare piece of land – equivalent to 110 football pitches.

But local parish councils and some residents objected to the plans, which they say should not be allowed on Green Belt land in fields at Church Farm in Gotham Road, Kingston-on-Soar.

And one person who objected to the application said the plans would be overbearing for residents living near the site due to a “hideous tsunami of panels”.

The applicant Renewable Connections Developments said the development would make “a positive contribution towards reducing carbon emissions”.

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Rushcliffe Borough Councillors debated the application for over an hour and a half before unanimously approving the plans on November 10.

Documents say the development would power 14,000 homes annually saving approximately 22,500 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The solar farm will be decommissioned at the end of its lifespan of around 40 years.

Paul Williams spoke at the meeting on behalf of two residents who live in ‘The Cottage’ adjacent to the application site.

Mr Williams said the residents, Anna and John, would be “imprisoned” by “photovoltaic prison guards” if the plans were approved.

He said: “As residents of the cottage, they would be dramatically affected by the dominance of the proposed development.

“This impact would have a disproportionate effect on an existing area with a loss of natural, open, scenic countryside.

“This will change the character of these rural fields directly adjoining the cottage.

“This proposed application would provide a hideous tsunami of panels and it would be clearly overbearing.

“Meeting our energy goals should not be used to justify the wrong development in the wrong location.

“Protecting the global environment is not an excuse to trash the local environment.”

Nick Bowen, Planning Manager speaking on behalf of Renewable Connections, said: “This July saw the UK’s hottest day on record and one of the most intense and prolonged heatwaves we’ve experienced, a phenomenon which would not be happening without climate change.

“We are fighting a climate crisis and an energy security crisis. I urge you to support your officer’s recommendation.

“The benefits of the scheme include the provision of renewable energy in the context of a declared climate emergency, outweighing any harm to the green belt.

“This creates an opportunity for the landowner to diversify and retain his agricultural practice, allowing for additional income from the solar farm whilst grazing sheep in and around the panelled areas.”

Councillor Rex Walker (Con) objected to the application and said: “The purpose of the green belt is to safeguard the countryside from encroachment.

“When one considers the map showing the true extent of the proposed development of the green belt in this area, I invite you to consider, if this does not constitute encroachment, what would?

“We all know we need renewable energy production, this is not the right location for it.”

Cllr Carys Thomas (Ind) said: “I’ve got a huge amount of sympathy for the residents but there are residents all over our settlements in Rushcliffe who have had enormous housing estates put next to their houses.

“I don’t see that this is any worse.

“Food production would be lost here and when looking at the carbon balance, that food is going to have to be brought in. The miles associated with that haven’t been considered.”

Gotham Parish Council, Sutton Bonington Parish Council and Kingston on Soar Parish Council had objected to the plans.

Council documents said the development would cause “a degree of harm to the Green Belt” but there would be “a limited degree of harm to the landscape”.

Councillors approved the application with a number of conditions including an agreement that the applicant would ensure continued agricultural use on the site.

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