Solar farm plans would be 'catastrophic' for the West Lindsey community

Councillors in West Lindsey say they are "extremely concerned" about the sheer scale and number of solar projects planned in the district.

Four nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIP) have been proposed for West Lindsey, that if granted would generate 2.08GW (Giga Watt) of energy.

NSIPs are not decided through the normal local planning processes, which means West Lindsey District Council is not the decision making body for this application. They will go to the Government Minister for Business, energy and Industrial Strategy, via its Planning Inspectorate, for a Development Consent Order (DCO).

Coun Owen Bierley, leader of West Lindsey District Council, said: "The sheer scale of the proposals in West Lindsey is at odds with both local and national policy.

Four sites have been proposed for solar farms in West Lindsey

“It does not effectively balance the need for local social and economic prosperity, self-sufficiency in terms of food production and the protection of open countryside against the need to generate green energy nationally.”

Coun Bierley has written to the Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, Graham Stuart MP, urging him to consider the wider impacts.

He said: “If these NSIP proposals and others like them are allowed to go forward, driven by market forces and economic expediency alone that the impact on the countryside and rural communities would be catastrophic.”

Coun Bierley strongly believes that rural districts have a key role to play in achieving self-sufficiency and realising net zero by 2050. But he stressed allowing the market to drive these schemes removes the ability for the country as a whole to appropriately plan future land use requirements.

The letter outlines how the current proposals would also undermine competing priorities including that of the visitor economy of West Lindsey, which generates £43.67m for local businesses.

Charlotte Goy, chief executive of Destination Lincolnshire urged the MP to consider the long-term implications and negative consequences of having a solar farm of this scale in Lincolnshire.

She said: “I believe it will impact not only on the immediate businesses near it, but on the whole ecosystem of Lincoln and Lincolnshire as a visitor destination.”