January 28, 2022 9.51 am

Lincolnshire’s fertile land “should not be thrown away” – solar farm motion is approved

Major plans on the horizon, but council wary of prejudging

South Kesteven District Council has renewed its commitments to protecting its food production industry as a major solar farm casts a shadow over the district.

Members of the full council backed Conservative Councillor Sue Woolley’s motion on Thursday which called for “any large-scale application for solar” to be “balanced against the need to produce more of our own food within our country” and for the loss of such land to be taken into account for planning applications.

She also called for renewable energy consultations to be as widely exercised as possible.

She told councillors: “South Kesteven’s land is some of the most fertile in the UK. There is absolutely no point in importing food with the carbon footprint it creates when we can grow it here sustainably.

“South Kesteven is at the very heart of UK food production and we should not throw that away lightly.”

Local residents fear a new proposal for a facility which covers more than 2,000 acres of farmland across the Rutland Stamford border have sparked fears the county could soon face a “sea of panels” and residents at the meeting questioned the council on what input they would have going forward.

South Kesteven District Councillor Sue Woolley.

Council leader Conservative Councillor Kelham Cooke told the residents during public questions that the council was “committed to ensuring that the concerns of the residents are heard”.

Speaking as an individually elected councillor, however, he added: “I am incredibly concerned about this application. It is far too large, it is in the wrong location, it is going to damage the beauty and the natural landscape of our area down in the south of this district.”

Lincolnshire County Council has previously voiced its concerns over the number of solar farm applications in the county.

Councillors on Thursday, however, were keen to avoid looking as though the authority had pre-determined its decision on the solar farm ahead of any decision or consultation meetings in the future.

An amendment to Councillor Woolley’s motion by Independent Councillor Richard Cleaver, which would have pointed out specific policies and called for the government to make changes to statutory rights of affected residents to compensate them for losses, was voted down.