Robert Jenrick shares his concerns on the number of plans for solar farms in Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire following plans for a new solar and energy storage park to be located on fields near the A1, to the northwest of Newark and encircling Caunton were announced
An MP said major new solar farm proposals unveiled this week are ‘not reasonable’.
Households have been leafleted over large-scale plans for the new Great North Road Solar Park which, if approved, would be located on fields near the A1, to the northwest of Newark and encircling Caunton.
The proposal, by Elements Green, would connect with the existing National Grid substation at Staythorpe.
“This is not a reasonable proposal. It is completely out of control and must be stopped,” said Newark MP Robert Jenrick in response to the plans.
He said the area was “witnessing vast applications for solar farms, covering swathes of the two counties, often surrounding entire villages and fundamentally changing the landscape for generations”.
If approved, construction would begin in 2027 and, according to Elements Green, would generate a capacity of around 800 megawatts AC of solar energy and power around 400,000 homes. A community consultation would begin early next year.
Mr Jenrick added: “I am as far from a ‘NIMBY’ as is possible in politics, campaigning for more housebuilding and infrastructure and planning reform throughout my years in Parliament and government. However, any reasonable person knows there must be limits.
“We’ve seen proposals in and around South Clifton, Dunham, Thoroton, Kelham and many more villages.
“The largest and most egregious thus far is the so-called Great North Road Solar Farm.
“The applicants have recently leafleted households across the constituency. It is a scheme of breathtaking scale. 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.”
Work is underway to decide where could accommodate the principal components of the solar park - which include solar photovoltaic panels, an on-site energy storage facility and associated infrastructure to connect with the one at Staythorpe.
It also includes significant biodiversity enhancements such as tree planting, wildflower meadows and wetland areas.
Mr Jenrick, who already spoke with the Energy secretary, plans to meet with the Minister on Monday.
“I intend to register my opposition and profound concern that a legitimate and welcome policy, encouraging more solar to meet our net zero commitments, is being exploited and turned Frankenstein-like into schemes that destroy landscapes and completely alienate communities.
“This is exactly what the Prime Minister meant when he recently spoke of achieving net zero in a pragmatic and sensible way, not a dogmatic and zealot-like manner that loses public support.”
The project would make £1 million pounds available in the region a year to provide grants for residential and commercial energy efficiency measures and small-scale renewable energy schemes.
It would support community projects, apprenticeships, school and college programmes, woodland, biodiversity, and archaeology projects.
Mark Noone, project director for Great North Road Solar Park, said: “With an installed capacity of over one gigawatt (GW) DC the scheme offers an effective, clean solution that would help secure the UK’s future energy needs, contributing 1.5 per cent towards the government’s 2035 solar PV target. Stepping up the production of sustainable, home-grown electricity it would also contribute to tackling the cost-of-living crisis head-on through the reduction of household energy bills.”
Work is currently underway to determine the suitable areas to accommodate the principal components of the solar park which include solar photovoltaic panels, an on-site energy storage facility and associated infrastructure to connect with the one at Staythorpe.
The initial stages of the work will be shared through a community consultation and the feedback will be used to refine more detailed proposals.
Mark added: “We want to deliver this project responsibly and are committed to consulting as widely and effectively as possible.”
It is anticipated the development process will take between two and three years and if planning approval is given, construction would begin around 2027.