"You don't save the planet by destroying the countryside"

Residents of four villages near Sleaford have spoken of their concerns after plans for a solar farm in between their villages have been released.

Residents of Pickworth, Newton and Walcot protesting a proposed wind farm. Pictured at the South Kesteven site looking south towards Pickworth.

Proposals for a solar farm on land west of Braceby Road in Walcot, which would also be 200m from Pickworth and 400m from Newton, as well as Haceby a short distance away, has caused unease among residents as they are concerned about the impact a solar farm would have on their historic villages.

The proposal, submitted by green energy company Intelligent Alternatives, is being dealt with by both North and South Kesteven district councils as the proposed site falls across two council boundaries.

One 67 hectare site is west of Walcot and Getton’s Lane, Pickworth with Moor Lane running along its southern boundary, which is proposed for site access, with the other 66 hectares located to the south of Moor Lane and east of Mill Lane, Pickworth, which would potentially be used for access, or Church Lane.

Residents of Pickworth, Newton and Walcot protesting a proposed solar farm. Pictured at the North Kesteven site looking north towards Newton.

Residents are concerned about the effect that not only the solar farm itself will cause to the environment and nature reserves, but also the impact on their ancient monuments, woodland and Grade 1 and 2 listed buildings.

On Friday, a group of residents from the villages met at the proposed site to discuss their options, with more than 60 people turning up. Newton resident Andy Marson said: "Deer transfer from the different surrounding woodland and these solar panels will block off their transfer. We've also go badgers and countless birds and other wildlife which will also be affected.

"You don't save the planet by destroying the countryside."

Fellow Newton resident Alex Davison said: "We're also worried about the impact the construction will have on the roads around here, as they are all single track roads so the construction of the solar farm will also damage the environment."

Residents of Pickworth, Newton and Walcot protesting a proposed wind farm. Pictured at the North Kesteven site looking north towards Newton.

Ian Taylor lives in Pickworth, and said he's absolutely against the proposal: "It's totally inappropriate that they want to put it [the solar farm] here. It's such a beautiful area round here so why should it go here?"

Fellow Pickworth resident Richard Wightman added: "I've lived here for 28 years and I like looking out of my bedroom window and enjoying the view, and if this goes ahead I'll look out of the window and instead of seeing nature and deer, I'll see electric cells."

A spokesman for Intelligent Alternatives said that at this stage, there is no formal planning applications and the proposal is in the very early stages, and that the company had reached out to the parish councils to allow the residents to express their concerns.

Isabella Marcucci, assistant planner for the company, stated in the proposal that new native trees and hedges will be planted along any exposed boundaries and allowed to grow up to at least three metres in height to provide natural screening, with the solar panels mounted on frames, secured to the ground by metal piles, standing up to three metres high facing due south, dark blue or black in appearance.

Ian Roberts, chairman of Pickworth parish council, said that the council would be opposing the plans and described the proposed solar farm as a "blot on the landscape".

"It will degrade the visual of the surrounding countryside, people walk and cycle around these lanes and this solar farm will degrade the panorama around the village.

"It would also spoil the character of the village itself."