Plans for major new solar farm developments across Lincolnshire have raised concern among residents, who fear they will spoil the area’s scenery and environment.
The proposed developments would see the sites on and around West Burton power station, which is set to close next year, and Cottam, which was decommissioned in 2019, converted into expansive solar farms.
One such site is between Clayworth and Gringley, just north of Retford, which a campaigner has called a “totally unsympathetic” choice for the environment and larger community.
“It’s absolute industrialisation of the landscape,” a spokesman on behalf of No Solar Desert: Clayworth Gringley said.
The group believes that Island Green Power, which is heading the project, has failed to select land that matches its own criteria.
“They are building it on Grade-3 agricultural land, even though they say they look for low-grade agricultural land.
“This land also isn’t flat – it’s on a steep gradient on a hill.
“And it’s less than two miles from a nature reserve.”
The site is one of seven proposed builds, that stretch out across Lincolnshire.
The developments have been proposed as part of government plans to phase out coal power by October 2024.
“We are absolutely not opposed to renewables,” the spokesperson added.
“If it wasn’t going to do so much harm, there’d be no objection, but this is simply the wrong site.
“It isn’t the sort of place you associate with solar farms.
“It can’t be built here discreetly, nor without damaging the ecology or environment.”
The group was quickly formed after they learned of the project, and members are keen to fight against the proposals.
“No thought has been given to the impact it will have on the community,” the spokesperson said.
“They have failed to engage with the community, and never seemingly wanted to despite the scale of the procedure.”
In a statement provided to Lincolnshire Live, a spokesperson for Island Green Power said: “We are pleased to have recently shared our early proposals for the Cottam and West Burton solar projects. Together, they will repower the existing Cottam and West Burton sites with clean energy.
“This is key to supporting national commitments to reducing carbon emissions, while also producing affordable electricity and reducing our reliance on increasingly expensive electricity and gas imports from Europe.
“While their importance is clear, we do recognise the need to deliver these projects sensitively and with respect to their local environment. Both projects involve a series of separate land parcels, allowing for a selective approach which we believe reduces the impact on the local area in comparison to fewer larger sites.
“Our team has undertaken an extensive process of site selection to identify appropriate areas of land, considering a range of environmental factors and through agreement with relevant landowners.
“We appreciate local residents will have comments on our proposals and the sites closest to them, and we want to hear their views to help us develop our proposals more thoroughly.
“We are at an early stage in this process and are committed to working with local communities and stakeholders to address potential concerns by refining our plans.
“Our project communications channels are open, and we will shortly be commencing our first phase of community consultation on the proposals. Anyone with an interest in these projects is encouraged to get in touch and take part.”
Due to the scale of the project, construction would not begin until 2024, and it would need to be approved in the final stage by the Secretary of State.
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