March 27, 2023 8.00 pm This story is over 15 months old

Solar Lincolnshire: Seven major farms in the pipeline, but there’s opposition

Ambitious projects could power over 637,000 homes

By Local Democracy Reporter

Plans to build at least seven major solar farms across Greater Lincolnshire are in the pipeline, despite proving to be controversial amongst many residents and politicians.

Once completed, these ambitious projects could power over 637,000 homes, while also helping contribute towards the UK’s net zero targets.

However, objectors fear the impact they could have on farmland and walking routes across the countryside.

Here’s our list of all the solar farms possibly being built in Lincolnshire over the coming months.

Cottam Solar Farm

In February this year, an application to convert the decommissioned Cottam power station near Gainsborough into a 60MW solar farm covering 2,800 acres across three separate sites was approved by the Planning Inspectorate.

According to developer Island Green Power, the project would generate enough electricity to power 180,000 homes.

However, campaigners have started to express concerns over the plans as two other solar farm applications are also being proposed for the Gainsborough area.

As a result, the government body has agreed to let residents have their say on the matter, giving them until March 30 to register as an Interested Party through the Planning Inspectorate website.

Plans for the Cottam Solar Farm

Gate Burton Energy Park

Another development planned for the Gainsborough area is the Gate Burton Energy Park, which would have the generation capacity of 500MW – enough to power more than 160,000 homes and avoid over 100,000 tonnes of CO2 every year.

The extent of the land available to deliver the project is contained within one site, near Gate Burton, Knaith Park and Willingham-by-Stow.

The developers, Low Carbon Limited, have already submitted their Development Consent Order (DCO) to the Planning Inspectorate, who have accepted it for examination, despite Lincolnshire County Council saying it is “ringing alarm bells”.

Councillor Colin Davie, executive member for environment and strategic planning, said: “The scale and rapidity of these proposals are ringing alarm bells with councils and residents.

“Renewable energy will play a part in the country’s energy generation strategy, but solar power generation is neither reliable appropriate nor desirable.

“Again, the decision about these proposals will be taken by the Secretary of State as to whether they are permitted, but we will be making it very clear that our county and its valuable agricultural land. shouldn’t be an easy target for unsuitable developments.”

Gate Burton Energy Park

Tillbridge Solar Farm

Classified as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), Tillbridge Solar Farm would generate more than 50MW of clean, green energy which could power around 20,000 homes.

The proposed development would be located on land to the south, east and south east of Gainsborough as well as the north west of Lincoln. Electricity generated from it would then connect to National Grid’s Cottam substation in Nottinghamshire.

Developers Tillbridge Solar are currently in the middle of refining their proposals, but Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh has said this land would be much better used for agriculture instead.

He said: “With the war in Ukraine, and wheat prices going through the roof, it is madness to take this amount of good agricultural land out of production.

“We want 100,000 acres of good agricultural land in the breadbasket of England taken out of agriculture use?”

Tillbridge Solar farm

Hatton Solar Farm

Plans for the near 50MW solar farm near Horncastle have also sparked debate amongst councillors.

Backed by renewable energy developer Push Energy and consultants Sustainable Planning Design Studio, the project would reportedly generate enough energy to power around 21,000 UK homes.

The developers are seeking permission from East Lindsey District Council to go ahead with the plans on land adjacent to Sotby Woods on Sturton Road, although they have already received a recommendation for approval.

Both Hatton Parish Council and Baumber Parish Council have criticised the proposal due to the impact it would have on the landscape and transport infrastructure around the area.

Some departments at Lincolnshire County Council have also objected, saying it could “have an impact on food security and the local rural economy”.

Hatton Solar Farm

Mallard Pass Solar Farm

The proposed Mallard Pass Solar Farm has faced heavy criticism from campaigners and local MPs as plans show it would stretch 4.2 miles along the Stamford and Rutland border.

The development would produce enough energy to power 92,000 homes over the next 30 years, according to the developers.

MPs Alicia Kearns and Gareth Davies say that the huge development would spoil large amounts of wildlife environment, take away productive agricultural land and would be seen for miles around.

Despite concerns, the Planning Inspectorate agreed to examine the plans in December last year.

Mallard Pass Solar Farm

Mallows Solar Farm

In December last year, plans for a 10MW solar farm on land west of Mallows Lane and north of Pymoor Lane in Sibsey were given the go-ahead by East Lindsey District Council.

Those behind the plans, Pathfinder Clean Energy UKDev Ltd, say it will be enough to power more than 4,500 homes and offset more than 3,300 tonnes of CO2 per year.

Although, they maintain the site is a temporary development and will be “completely removed” at the end of the 40 year operation, which means no agricultural land would be lost.

It will also provide large areas for sheep to graze with the majority of the scheme planted with wild flower seeds. Planners said this, along with additional hedgerows and provision for small mammals, birds and bats, would increase biodiversity by 85 per cent.

The plans received two public objections but no statutory complaints.

Mallows Solar Farm

Springwell Solar Farm

Backed by EDF Renewables UK and Luminous Energy, the Springwell Solar Farm would have the capacity to power around 180,000 homes across areas of agricultural land near Blankney, Scopwick and Ashby de le Launde every year.

According to planning documents, the project would reportedly “play an important role in safeguarding future operations while supporting the ethos of long-term sustainability”.

A consultation was conducted earlier this year in a bid to get feedback from local communities that could help shape the early ideas and identify potential benefits that it could support in the local area, these are still being reviewed.

A second consultation is planned for later this year before a proposal is sent to the government’s Planning Inspectorate.

Springwell Solar Farm

Since first publishing this article, plans for two more solar farms near Sleaford have also been revealed.

Washdyke Solar Farm

The proposal, submitted by GS Ignis Limited, would see the development built over 63 acres of land associated with Washdyke Farm in Folkingham.

The site has been considered ideal as it is suitably located to facilitate the connection to the National Grid and has “limited overshadowing”, allowing for adequate light levels.

If approved, the project would reportedly support South Kesteven District Council in its net-zero targets as it would help power more than 8,700 homes per year.

After 40 years, infrastructure will be removed from the site and the project will be decommissioned unless its lifespan is extended through further planning applications.

The plans have been submitted to the council through their planning portal, although a final decision is yet to be made.

The proposed location | Image: South Kesteven District Council

Beacon Fen Energy Park

Plans another solar farm between the villages of Heckington and Helpringham have also been revealed.

If approved, the Beacon Fen Energy Park could generate up to 600MW which would help power around 190,000 homes.

This would reduce annual CO2 emissions by 120,000 tonnes.

Developers Low Carbon are hoping to start construction by no earlier than 2026, subject to them achieving approval from the Secretary of State.

The proposal has already been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate and detailed design layout documents are expected to be released within the next week.

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