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Revised plans for solar farm at Gonerby Moor near Grantham approved after previous rejection

Plans for a solar farm have been approved after previously being rejected over fears of losing “versatile” land.

A vote was carried by members of South Kesteven District Council’s planning committee earlier today (Friday, January 19) to approve proposals for Lightsource SPV to build a 23MW solar farm - sufficient to power 6,701 homes - on land off Green Lane in Gonerby Moor.

Initially, plans were refused in July of last year because of concerns over the loss of “versatile” land, the “major cumulative impact” on the wider area and the “unacceptable impact” for users on public rights of way.

Plans for a solar farm at Gonerby Moor have been approved
Plans for a solar farm at Gonerby Moor have been approved

The revised plan addressed these previous concerns by suggesting the developer would remove panels and equipment from the best and most versatile land and set back panels from the public right of way by an additional 10m.

Representing Lightsource SPV, Katie McGuiness told the committee that they had “carefully considered feedback” and there was a “need” and “benefit” for the solar farm.

Miss McGuiness added that it would help to reduce energy bills, referring to the cost of living crisis that people are “still living in”.

The committee were also told of the findings of a door-to-door survey with residents in Marston, Hougham and Great Gonerby, where 91% of residents were said to be in favour of the development.

Of the residents asked, 61% of these were from Marston and it “demonstrated the significant levels of support locally”, added Katie.

Coun Tim Harrison (Ind – Grantham St Wulfram’s) questioned the developers about the number of people who formed part of the survey.

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Miss McGuinness confirmed 107 people were questioned in total, including 59 in Marston, 14 in Hougham and 34 in Great Gonerby.

Coun Harrison said that the percentages given were “misleading” and it “slightly discolours” the feeling of approval for the plans.

Coun Harish Bisnauthsing (Lib Dem – Stamford St Mary’s) questioned where the developers were sourcing the panels from and how sufficient they were, as the solar farm was proposed for a temporary 40-year period.

Miss McGuiness replied that they try to source materials as “locally as they can” and that the “life expectancy” of the solar panels would be sustainable for the 40-year period.

Coun Bisnauthsing later raised more concerns over the environmental impact.

He said: “Land is a finite quantity we have. We have growing populations and we need to grow our own food.

“We don’t need to rely on carbon footprint for our food to come from far away land.

“I feel the harm that it is going to cause to the environment. I feel very strongly about preserving our land.”

Coun Harrison also had concerns over the visual impact and that it was a “massive downplayer” for him, leading to Coun Harrison notifying the committee of his early feeling of objection.

Coun Paul Wood (Ind - Viking ward) disagreed with Coun Harrison and said that people had not raised objections with him, and that he recommended the approval.

Coun Helen Crawford (Con - Bourne West), said: “As much as I hate losing farmland, but when we have members on every application wanting car charging points, they need to think where is that electricity coming from.

“We don’t have the supply we need.”

Before voting, Coun Charmaine Morgan (Dem Ind – Grantham St Vincent’s) added that her “conscience won’t let me support the loss of so much agricultural land”.

The solar farm is predicted to result in a reduction in carbon emissions of approximately 4,665 metric tonnes per year, and could power around 14,000 electric vehicles yearly.

It is also estimated that around 60 jobs will be created during the construction period, with four direct and indirect jobs supported by the solar farm once it is operational.

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