July 5, 2022 5.05 pm This story is over 23 months old

Solar farm plans on Lincolnshire farmland are ‘madness’

The world is “in a corner” between climate change and food scarcity

Putting solar farms on prime farmland has been slammed as “nonsense” by councillors who fear for Lincolnshire’s food production.

West Lindsey District councillors say that growing food should be the priority over developments.

Three major solar farm plans, which are currently in the works for the Gainsborough area, are expected to cover more than 7,000 acres of countryside.

A motion was brought by Councillor Anne Welburn to secure the area’s food production and give more support for farmers.

Councillor Jackie Brockway told last night’s full council meeting she was “extremely worried” about a spate of solar farm applications.

“Vast tracts of land will be used up. It doesn’t have to be Grade 1 land to be valuable,” she said.

“It isn’t crucial that solar farms go on these areas and use up good quality land, which is often close to residents’ homes and gardens.

“Once they’ve been built, the land is gone for 25 years – and we don’t know what state it will be in when the panels are gone.

“The world is in a precarious position – taking land away from food production now would be nonsense.”

Solar farms remain in place for decades once built | Photo: Adobe Stock

Councillor Roger Patterson agreed, saying: “The war in Ukraine has shown how important food production is. If another war was to break out now, people would starve, as they’re doing in other countries.

“Instead of taking prime agricultural land, we should be putting solar panels on every single new-build house.”

Councillor Lesley Rollings added: “We’re not producing anywhere near the amount of food we need – barely 60%.

“Farmers have been treated very badly, and are under terrible strain with the rising cost of fertiliser. Energy production can’t come at the expense of the farming community.”

However, Councillor Christopher Darcel said that the world was “in a corner” between climate change and food scarcity, which would cause difficult choices.

There was a suggestion that solar farms would be better placed on disused airfields rather than farmland.

West Lindsey District Council have passed the motion to support farmers

Councillor Stephen Bunney raised concerns about the pollution caused by agriculture, saying: “While it is madness to convert our farmland to solar panels, at some point we need to look holistically at how we feed ourselves and what we can do to reverse the effects of agricultural practices.”

The motion calls on the council’s representatives to take the concerns about farmland to the Central Lincolnshire Joint Strategic Planning Committee, and lobby government ministers.

Councillor Jessie Milne urged anyone concerned about solar park expansions to sign the petition at https://www.7000acres.co.uk.

Residents are protesting proposals for West Burton, Cottam and Gate Burton Solar Farm projects around Gainsborough. These are currently in various stages of development.