The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, promises solar farm proposals will be looked at following concerns by Newark and Sherwood District Councillor for Collingham, Phil Farmer.
The Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has promised that solar farm proposals will be looked at and will be more fairly distributed.
Mr Sunak was in Worksop last week meeting with Conservative members from across Nottinghamshire, including a number of representatives from Newark and Sherwood District Council.
Phil Farmer, ward member for Collingham, took the opportunity to ask the Prime Minister about what he considered was an unfair number of solar farm plans being submitted across the district.
This follows the announcement of the Great North Road Solar Farm, which would cover thousands of acres of land in countryside near Newark.
Mr Farmer said: “It was an opportunity for us to get our point of view across.
“Right now we have some major concerns about the amount of applications for solar farms in the local area and how they are affecting our rural communities.
“A lot of these plans are so big that they are going direct to the national strategic infrastructure committee and although we will be able to comment on them, they won’t be coming to us for approval.
“So for that reason I asked him (Rish Sunak) to look at the current government strategy for solar and that if he is keen to continue down the route being planned that he would look at the distribution of those solar farms.
“At the moment we get more than our fair share of them purely because of the National Grid connection points to power stations that we have.
“He said he was keen to make sure that they were fairly distributed around the country and that it wasn’t really fair that we would be bearing to brunt for other places lack of infrastructure.
“So he made me a promise that he would go away and take a look at it with the Secretary of State for Energy.”
In the past few weeks two solar farm plans near Caunton were rejected by the district council as they were deemed to have a negative impact on the countryside, the green belt and would have remove prime agricultural land from use for a period of 40 years if approved.
On this occasion the plans were heard by the district council as they had been split into two separate applications, albeit on land adjusant to heach other, and were within the 50MW capacity level — at 49.9MW each — which would have required the plans to be approved by the energy minister.
At this meeting there was a strong resident presence, a factor which Mr Farmer says should be taken into account.
“He made me a promise that it would be looked at and I will be following up on that,“ he said.
“The rural communities here are suffering badly and there is not real data on how these plans affect the people that live there.
“Potentially tens of thousands of acres are going to be taken out by solar panels which will change the face of our rural communities and will have a cost because people will go from living in the countryside to effectively being in the middle of a power station.
“This is not coming here to serve our needs, it’s coming here to service other parts of the country, but it will be our community that is directly affected and I don’t think that’s fair”
Mr Farmer agreed that the green agenda was important for providing energy to the residents of Newark and Sherwood but suggested that attaching solar panels directly to existing rooftops would be more beneficial and combining solar with wind energy for a hybrid approach.