Villagers in Hatton plead 'no solar on farmland'

Residents of Hatton have launched a campaign to stop the proposed development of a solar farm in their village, with the support of a local MP.

The campaign group with Coun William Gray (third left) and Sir Edward Leigh (fourth right) at the site of the proposed solar farm.
The campaign group with Coun William Gray (third left) and Sir Edward Leigh (fourth right) at the site of the proposed solar farm.

A planning application for a ground mounted 49.9MW solar farm on land adjacent to Sotby Woods on Sturton Road has been submitted to East Lindsey District Council.

A previous report stated that the farm, from renewable energy developer Push and consultants Sustainable Planning Design (SPD) Studio, hopes to produce around 49.99MW for around 40 years – enough to power around 21,000 UK homes and displacing around 12,500 tonnes of CO2 (around 2,700 cars) from the atmosphere.

But Hatton residents have raised concerns that the proposed development – which will be roughly the size of 120 football pitches – will adversely impact a considerable area of valuable agricultural land in the village.

Campaigners show Sir Edward Leigh the solar farm plans.

The main concerns of the residents, who are campaigning under the banner of the Hatton SIU Action Group (SIU = Solar Industrial Unit) are that the land in question is Grade 2 land, cultivated with wheat and has been continually farmed for decades, the impact on local wildlife and biodiversity, and the risks to the gasworks pipeline which runs through Hatton.

Ruchira Yarsley, spokesman for the group, added: “I moved here from Dubai because I love the Wolds and its beautiful landscape, we don’t want a solar farm here. Many of us have holiday cottages here, and this solar farm will not only spoil the landscape, but our holiday homes’ value will decrease.”

The group invited Gainsborough MP Sir Edward Leigh to hear their concerns at a public meeting on Friday in Hatton, who has agreed to support their campaign to have the application refused.

He said: “I have been getting a commitment from DEFRA that if land is Grade 1 to 3b listed that it should be kept for agricultural land and I’m fairly confident that when it comes to ELDC’s planning committee, it will be turned down and I will be writing to them to turn it down.

Hatton villagers Nigel Howorth, Tracey Capel and Mandy Howorth study the solar farm plans.

"We need every bit of British farming we can get – we’ve got millions of acres of industrial buildings which can have solar panels on the roofs, not our beautiful farm land.”

The meeting was held at the home of Angela Watson and Steve Hayward in Hatton, and the solar farm will be situated in the fields surrounding their property.

Angela said: “We never would have bought this house if we thought there would be a solar farm built there - I don’t want to look out of my window and see ugly solar panels.”

County councillor William Gray, ward member for Horncastle and the Keals, also lent his support to the campaign, saying at the meeting: “My concern is it’s so close to many people’s houses and it will take away Grade 2 agricultural land. I will recommend refusal of the application to the planning committee.”

In a landscape visual impact assessment submitted with the planning application, the developers stated although there will be localised visual and landscape effects, the proposed development “will not dominate the view”, and that “landscape infrastructure, retained mature hedgerows and enhancement of existing vegetation will help to visually integrate the development into the surrounding landscape”.