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South Kesteven District Council to decide on 24-megawatt solar farm near Welby

Councillors will be asked to approve plans for a 24-megawatt solar farm.

South Kesteven District Council’s Planning Committee will review the major proposal for the installation of the solar farm on 43.65 hectares of agricultural land west of Church Lane, Welby, today (Thursday, July 11).

The Padero Solar Ltd (PS Renewables) project aims to install photovoltaic panels, inverters, cabling, fencing, CCTV, access tracks, and a substation for 40 years.

view looking towards the planned site from Church Lane, near Welby. | Image: Google Streetview
view looking towards the planned site from Church Lane, near Welby. | Image: Google Streetview

The solar farm would generate 24 megawatts, powering 9,000 homes.

Coun Sarah Trotter (Con) has called for a review due to concerns about the negative impact on agricultural land, ineffective land use, and lack of community support.

Find out about planning applications that affect you at the Public Notice Portal.

The land, currently used for agriculture, is Grade 3 and of high agricultural value.

The planned location and outline of the site.
The planned location and outline of the site.

However, concerns have been raised regarding the project's effect on the local landscape, biodiversity, and ecology.

The council has received objections from 14 people.

Welby Parish Council acknowledged the importance of decarbonisation and the benefits of green energy.

The proposed landscaping for the site.
The proposed landscaping for the site.

However, they express concerns over losing high-grade arable land, with less than a third of the site being lower quality (Grade 3B), and most actively farmed for crops.

They emphasised the need to balance food security and energy security, particularly given the site's potential for supplemental livestock grazing.

"The development is one of three nearby schemes in planning."

“The cumulative impact of loss of arable land, the impact to the fundamental nature of the landscape and the sense of encirclement needs to be noted.”

They also noted the lack of unanimous community support and argued that solar development may be inefficient and might not achieve net zero emissions throughout the equipment's lifecycle.

The site is within the Southern Lincolnshire Edge, known for open fields and near heritage assets and wildlife sites.

Despite these concerns, a series of technical documents submitted with the application, including an Ecological Impact Assessment and a Flood Risk Assessment, aim to address potential environmental impacts.

The Council's Principal Development Management Planner, Adam Murray, has recommended granting planning permission, subject to conditions, highlighting the importance of balancing development with environmental and community considerations.

Council officers said the project would contribute significantly to national and local greenhouse gas reduction goals, as emphasised in the Climate Change Act 2019 and South Kesteven District Council's Climate Action Strategy.

They noted that there was insufficient justification for using such valuable land when lower quality land was available and said the development would impact the local landscape's character and visual appeal.

However, despite these conflicts, officers acknowledged the significant benefits, including renewable energy production and substantial biodiversity net gain.

They concluded that the benefits outweigh the adverse impacts.

“The electricity generated by the proposed development and the contribution that this makes towards meeting the national and local objectives of reducing reliance on fossil fuels and reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a significant benefit which officers attribute substantial weight.

“In addition, the biodiversity net gain achieved by the proposed landscaping scheme would also significantly exceed the statutory 10% requirements, and therefore, officers would attribute this significant weight.”

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