Plans for new solar farms in West Lindsey cause loss of farmland fears

Plans for new solar farms have caused consternation among councillors who fear Lincolnshire’s role as the breadbasket of the UK could be under threat.
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The county has been the subject of several large applications over the last year to use more than 12,000 acres of agricultural land to home the solar panels.

However, councillors fear the move will lead to the loss of high quality agricultural land which could be used to supply food to the rest of the UK.

They, along with other opponents, feel there are better options.

Coun Richard Butroid, Sir Edward Leigh and Henry Morris, whose family owns Gate Burton Hall, at one of the proposed solar farm sitesCoun Richard Butroid, Sir Edward Leigh and Henry Morris, whose family owns Gate Burton Hall, at one of the proposed solar farm sites
Coun Richard Butroid, Sir Edward Leigh and Henry Morris, whose family owns Gate Burton Hall, at one of the proposed solar farm sites

The applications include three sites in West Lindsey which total nearly 10,000 acres alone.

The issue has attracted the attention of MPs, with Sir Edward Leigh visiting one Gainsborough property which could find itself almost surrounded by the panels.

He said: “We have a crisis in food production.

"There are many industrial sites, brownfield sites, better sites, rather than this beautiful rolling countryside where we could have solar panels, so this is totally out of proportion.”

County Councillor Richard Butroid, who represents Gainsborough Rural South, also pointed to the issues with infrastructure and noise in the beautiful rolling countryside.

He said: “Our public right of ways are going to have fences in either side of them to protect the panels, and you’re not going to feel like you’re walking through any decent countryside anymore and that’s a loss for a generation.”

The issues even reached Westminster with a debate calling for more regulation and to allow local people to have their say on larger plans.

Many MPs were keen to point out that they were supporters of renewable energy and its use in making the country self sustaining and secure.

However, they feared there could be an imbalance between the gains from the farms and the losses of the agricultural land.

And it’s not just solar farms causing concerns, with worries around on-land wind farms and new pylons lining the UK’s coast.

National Grid ESO has also announced a £54 billion project, which aims to better link up the grid and help deliver 50GW of offshore windpower across the country by 2030.