Calls made to help protect farmland in and around Gainsborough

Calls have been made for more protection of Central Lincolnshire farmland during a debate on the latest Local Plan.

West Lindsey District Council’s Prosperous Communities Committee was asked to comment on the latest consultation document on the plan before it is submitted to the Planning Inspector.

Councillors were mostly in favour of the latest proposals.

Sign up to our daily LincolnshireWorld Today newsletter

However, Coun Jessie Milne said: “One thing is missing, protecting our farmland.

“7,000 acres surrounding Gainsborough is down to be built on with solar panels, and I don’t care what the lifetime of those panels is, at the end of it that land is infertile."

“Why have we not got any stipulation in here that should be protecting farmland, that should be protecting our food?”

She said this was particularly important noting the expected applications for solar farms, including the Gate Burton Energy Park.

She said: “We’re now going to be, if they win, surrounded by solar farms – where will that end?

“More and more of our food producing farmland is being built on, you can’t eat bricks and mortar.

“7,000 acres surrounding Gainsborough is down to be built on with solar panels, and I don’t care what the lifetime of those panels is, at the end of it that land is infertile.

“We don’t seem to have anybody about to stand up and say we have to stop building on farmland, or using it for other than to provide food.”

She was backed by Coun Christopher Darcel who said the countryside was being “smothered” by solar panels.

He also questioned why more wind turbines weren’t being built instead.

He said: “You can have a wind farm which takes up hardly any agricultural land and people are anti-windfarms because they say it doesn’t look nice.

“I would say it’s far more important to produce food on agricultural land than just say ‘we don’t want wind farms, they don’t look nice’.”

Asked by Coun John McNeill if the CLLP could “protect us or enable us to oppose against any Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects similar to the ones proposed”, council officers said decisions were made outside local planning policy and against national guidelines.

However, they said decision makers’ judgement included the balance in front of them at the time, adding: “It would be wrong to say the CLLP can stop NSIPS but there are elements considered as part of the broader system.”