Councillors Reject Planning Permission for Two Solar Farms

West Lindsey District Council’s Planning Committee has rejected two applications for solar farms between Burton and Riseholme following representations of planning grounds for refusal by local residents.

Protestors from Burton, Riseholme and South Carlton protest at the Guildhall, Gainsborough against two Solar Farm proposals.
Protestors from Burton, Riseholme and South Carlton protest at the Guildhall, Gainsborough against two Solar Farm proposals.

The two farms, allocated to agricultural land between the villages of Burton and Riseholme, were previously deferred so that the applicants could satisfy concerns over whether the sequential test had been met – meaning the the applicant had chosen the site for the best possible reasons.

The first application by AEE proposed a 42 ha site comprised of two separate elements off the B1398 around Burton by Lincoln village and the A15; whilst a second application by RGE Energy was for the construction of a farm on land off Middle Street, Burton-by-Lincoln.

Numerous residents from Burton and South Carlton (in the Saxilby ward) together with residents from Riseholme (in the Nettleham ward) attended the planning meeting on Wednesday, 12th November 2014 at the Guildhall, Marshall’s Yard, Gainsborough. Prior to the commencement of the meeting the group protested with placards, demanding the refusal of the schemes.

Cllr. Giles McNeill with a Solar Farm Photovoltaic Array at Burton.
Cllr. Giles McNeill with a Solar Farm Photovoltaic Array at Burton.

Both planning applications were refused by the council. Cllr. Giles McNeill, who represents the Nettleham Ward, and who seconded refusal of the first application and proposed refusal of the second said:

“Both applications have been refused due to incongruency with the saved Local Plan policies STRAT 12 (Development in the open countryside) and STRAT 13 (undeveloped breaks between settlements and green wedges around Lincoln). We also considered the National Planning Policy Guidance issued in March, earlier this year related to ground-mounted solar photovoltaic farms.

“Whilst I am all in favour of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, building a low carbon economy, to protect our global environment – I must have regard to planning policies, and in my view these proposals did not accord with the substantive weight the committee felt should be placed on maintaining the green wedge, and the distinctive breaks between settlements.”

Before the meeting, the group argued that while they were not against the idea of solar power, it was the positioning of the two farms that they disagreed with. Mr. Bill Maris, who farms at South Carlton, said:

“I farm the land near to where the solar scheme is proposed. I’ve just had my soil analysed and some of my land is grade one and it’s certainly all grade two.

“A lot of the land that is proposed for this site will also definitely be grade two and some of it will be grade one.

“I don’t object to solar, I object to it going on good, agricultural land. It should be used for farming and there are many alternatives to energy but there is only one place you can produce food, and that’s on land.

“I suppose to the farmer that is renting the land it’s easy money if you’re offered a thousand pounds an acre for 25 years.”

Local resident Mrs. Sue North said:

“We are not opposed to solar energy, what we are opposed to is where the farms are proposed for. These farms are on what’s called the green wedge, which was given that status by West Lindsey District Council to separate the countryside from the town.
“The two farms, which we have to look at together because they are side by side, would create a tunnel for the old coach road that people walk through.”

Mrs. Alison Richards added

“For a lot of people the historic coach road, which is mentioned in the Domesday book, is a recreational route for a lot of people in the area; walkers, cyclists, horse riders and a lot of families use it.

“For many it’s the only route for people to the north of Lincoln without trespassing on a field.”

Mrs. Desiree Applewhite said:

“It might only be a temporary twenty-five years slot but it would ruin an amenity for a generation. There are plenty of other brownfield sites which can be used, such as disused airfields.”