Monday 26 February 2024
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Parish councils fight ‘absolutely massive’ Nottinghamshire solar farms project

Parish councils for areas which would be surrounded by a huge solar panel energy project say they are joining forces to fight against it.

The Great North Road Solar Park would create a ring of solar panels and infrastructure four miles in diameter wide in the countryside near Newark, west of the A1.

Developer Elements Green says it would be able to power more than 400,000 homes and speed up the country’s transition to energy independence.

Newark MP Robert Jenrick (Con) has already spoken out against the plans, and now nearby villages plan to add their opposition.

Councillor Bruce Laughton (Con), who represents the area on Nottinghamshire County Council, said: “It’s absolutely massive. It’s like building a town in the middle of the countryside.

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“People are generally aware of the plans now, and the Parish Councils are joining forces to fight the application.

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“North Nottinghamshire has supplied the country with energy for years. Now people are saying it’s somebody else’s turn.”

Flooding was one of the main worries for local residents, he added.

“We had ten villages flooded a few weeks ago – there are serious worries about the further impact of such a large development,” Cllr Laughton said.

“The county council is the lead local flood authority. They’ve got to assess the impact of this development on the catchment, but I doubt they’ve come across such a large project before.

“I never step out of line as far as my parish councils are concerned – if they don’t want it, I don’t want it.”

Consultations with local communities will begin early next year, with the solar park’s construction potentially starting as soon as 2027.

Designs show a large ring of development stretching between several villages, with panels shown in dark blue on a map and ‘cable, access and potential enhancement areas’ in light blue.

Due to the scale, the Secretary of State for Energy, currently Claire Coutinho, would have the final say on the plans.

Two solar farms in Caunton were rejected by Newark & Sherwood District Council’s planning committee last week – however, they are dwarfed by the new proposal.

Ward Councillor Sue Saddington (Con) warned at the meeting that the region risked becoming “Electric City” due to the flurry of applications.

Residents at the meeting held signs warning of a ‘solar invasion’.

MP Robert Jenrick has already criticised the “breathtaking scale” of the Great North Road proposal and said the spread of huge solar farms “must be stopped”.

“It would be a massive change to the landscape of the area, turning beautiful countryside into an industrial landscape and loses hundreds of acres of agricultural land,” he wrote on Facebook.

A spokesperson for Elements Green previously said: “Great North Road Solar Park is directly in line with the UK Government’s ‘British Energy Security Strategy’ for transitioning to renewable energy, energy independence and reduction of energy bills.

“We are keen to engage with local communities to share our early-stage proposals, giving them the opportunity to have their say, share their views and local knowledge.

“We strongly support the principle that infrastructure developments should bring benefits to the communities that host them and through our NG+ programme we’re keen to hear ideas around education, employment, energy efficiency and ecology.

“We would welcome the opportunity to meet with Robert Jenrick to understand his concerns so that we can take them on board, and as far as reasonably possible, factor these into the evolving proposals for the scheme.”

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