GALLERY: Villagers unite against Sutton St James solar farm plan
PUBLISHED: 11:22 24 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:23 24 January 2014
A group of villagers are working together to oppose plans for an 81 acre solar farm with 62,000 panels on their doorstep.
Fendyke Solar Farm Limited wants to build the solar farm on Grade 2 land one mile west of Sutton St James, on the Cambridgeshire border.
The objectors are looking into holding a public meeting next week to drum up support for their campaign.
Concerned neighbour Bella Faulkner, of Broadgate, Sutton St James, said: “We received a letter about it on Saturday but we only have until February 6 to oppose it.
“Unless you lived in the vicinity, you did not get a letter so you would not know anything about the plans.
“Everyone I’ve spoken to about the solar farm within half a mile of it is against it.
“We don’t need another solar park in our village parish which will spoil our countryside views and mean the loss of 81 acres of Grade 2 agricultural land, which goes against Government guidelines of building on brownfield sites.
“The access road is single lane. It will be inadequate to cope with hefty lorries.
“Screening of the site is an issue - fencing put up for security will look out of character with the area and it will take several years for hedges to grow.
“Its visual impact will cause house prices to fall.”
Fellow objector, beekeeper Dave Arlott, of Grange Farm, is concerned about the glare the panels will cause at the Fen Dyke/ Broadgate crossroads.
He said: “We are concerned about the reflection from the panels which will distract drivers at what is already a dangerous crossroads where there have been accidents.”
A public consultation was held in July 2011 which had 35 responses - 21 supported the scheme, 11 opposed it and three put down “did not know”.
The developers say the proposals will create jobs and have pledged to set up a Community Benefit Fund.
Agent BE Renewables Limited, in their report, said: “Development will provide an important contribution towards achievement of local and national renewable energy targets.”
The solar farm will “underpin the economic viability of the agricultural business with the local community benefitting through local investment during the 25 year period”, the agent said.
“It will not create significant impact to character of landscape or unacceptable visual impacts.”
Its 61,940 panels will generate enough electricity to supply 3,569 homes and reduce CO2 emissions by 10,313 tonnes per year.
The solar farm will have a 25 year lifespan, during which some sheep grazing will be allowed on the site, then the land will restored to arable farming.
South Holland District Council will decide on the application on April 14.