South Kesteven District Council has rejected two major solar farm proposals, citing the importance of preserving agricultural land and ensuring food production.
The proposed solar farms, located at Washdyke Farm near Folkingham and near Gonerby Moor, were expected to significantly contribute to the UK’s renewable energy goals.
However, the council’s decision underscores the ongoing tension between energy security and food security.
Developers Green Switch and Lightsource SPV 217 Limited had proposed the solar farms, which were expected to power more than 8,700 and 14,000 homes, respectively.
The developers argued that the projects would not only contribute to the UK’s renewable energy goals but also provide significant benefits in terms of biodiversity and regional economic benefits. However, these arguments failed to sway the council.
Cllr Penny Milnes, recommending refusal on the Washdyke Farm application, described the chosen location as a “strange site” due to its distance from a connection point and the quality of the access track.
She also highlighted the importance of the land for cereal production, especially in the context of a global crisis.
The Gonerby Moor project also faced similar objections. Councillors raised questions about the grading of the agricultural site and the cumulative nature of solar farms.
Cllr Charmaine Morgan noted a recent report which said that the loss of agricultural land to developments, including solar farms, resulted in the loss of 250,000 tonnes of fruit and vegetables each year.
Despite the developers’ assurances that the land would continue to be used for grazing and could be returned to agricultural land after a 40-year period, the council remained unconvinced.
The reasons for refusal cited the loss of agricultural land, the visual and cumulative impact of the development, and the need to protect public rights of way.