Renewables firm could ditch East Heckington wind farm for solar power scheme

Parish councillors are to discuss new proposals to replace plans for a 22 turbine wind farm with a 500MW solar farm on farm land near Sleaford.

Solar farm plans.

Renewable energy firm Ecotricity has applied for planning permission from North Kesteven District Council to site a 500MW generating capacity solar farm on land at Six Hundreds Drove, East Heckington.

The scheme would also involve associated infrastructure including battery storage, substations, inverters and cable connection to Bicker Fen substation.

The land north of the A17 was granted consent to be used as a wind farm with 66MW generating capacity by the Department of Energy and Climate – now Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy – in February 2013 after a public inquiry. However the inspector stipulated that, among other things, the approval hinged on an adequate system being put in place so that the rotor blades did not disrupt radar for aircraft, particularly from the vital front line station nearby at RAF Coningsby.

Since then, due to difficulties in overcoming this hurdle, the company had applied for an extension of planning consent from five to ten years before work has to start. They also applied to make a start on altering the access track, relocating the onsite substation and increasing the length of the rotor blades to maximise the energy generated, all ahead of coming up with a radar mitigation scheme. Objectors sent in detai9led reports on the extra noise this made cause for neighbours, something dpisuted by Ecotricity.

Heckington Parish Council, which, along with NKDC, has objected to the wind farm in the past, will meet on Monday to discuss the new plans.

Chairman of the parish council, Coun Jan Palmer said, in principle, she expected members to be more in favour of a solar farm, but they have only been notified about the new proposals this week. She commented: “As always, dealing with these large companies, one always has to read the small print, and there is a line which could be read as a threat, saying if they get permission for the solar, they will not build the wind turbines.”

Ecotricity has been contacted to comment on the latest move, but as yet had not responded.