Campaigners challenging a massive solar farm project to the South of Lincolnshire fear the county will soon have a “sea of panels” dominating the landscape and the damaging farming and environment.
The Mallard Pass Solar Farm development by Windel Energy and Canadian Solar would cover more than 2,000 acres of farmland across the Rutland and Stamford border area and would generate enough power for 92,000 homes. It would be eight times the size of the UK’s current largest solar farm.
Members of Mallard Pass Action Group, a campaign group set up to challenge the development, met with MPs and council leaders at the site on Friday to set out their opposition to the plans.
One member, Keith Busfield, told Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Jaines that the farm needed to be looked at in context of further proposals already beginning consultation, including:
- Low Carbon’s plans for Gate Burton, near Gainsborough
- Ecotricity’s plans off the A17 near Heckington
- Island Green’s plans for two projects at Cottom and West Burton
- And a sixth one near Great Sturton also suspected to be on its way
“When you look at it at a national scale and you start to connect the dots, then hang on a minute this isn’t just about one project, it’s about a multiplicity of them,” said Keith.
“From a Lincolnshire standpoint these don’t stand in isolation, put them together nationally and we’re going to have a sea of solar panels.”
The group have begun collating evidence, and have even put together a video which simulates what the impact of the Mallard Pass Solar Farm could look like.
The group’s main concerns centre around the loss of agricultural land, however, they also include the safety standards of the farm’s storage batteries, the archeological and historical significance of at least part of the site as a Roman graveyard, whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages and the climate impact of importing the panels from China.
Lincolnshire County Council has previously voiced its concerns over solar farms in the county, which it said was “ringing alarm bells”.
A statement from the those behind the Mallard Pass Solar Farm said there was an “urgent need to decarbonise our electricity system”.
“Mallard Pass Solar Farm would generate a significant amount of clean, renewable energy – the anticipated output is approximately equivalent to the combined domestic consumption of electricity in Rutland and South Kesteven,” they said.
“As well as providing infrastructure to generate clean energy, the project is also proposing to deliver a net-gain in biodiversity, connect habitats, and be designed in a way that responds sensitively to the surrounding landscape, respecting local residents and existing heritage features.”
They said they have not yet reached the “detailed design stage” but that initial consultations on plans showed the fields that “may be potentially suitable for panels”.
They added that panels would be spaced to allow for biodiversity, utility corridors and maintenance with around 38% for open uses.
They said feedback from those early proposals would inform the detailed designs scheduled for public release in Spring.