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Rutland Solar Action Group calls for ban on large-scale solar developments on farmland

People have called for a ban on large-scale solar developments on farmland.

Rutland Solar Action Group - formed to oppose a 200-acre Staveley Solar Farm between Pilton and Morcott - wants panels to be put on roofs, not in fields.

At a meeting in Morcott Village Hall on Friday (January 5), Rutland and Melton MP Alicia Kearns joined residents to speak out against the Staveley plan.

MP Alicia Kearns at the meeting in Morcott Village Hall
MP Alicia Kearns at the meeting in Morcott Village Hall

She said of all the land in the UK currently earmarked for solar development, more than half is concentrated in just two counties, Lincolnshire and Rutland.

Mrs Kearns said: “If we are serious about food security, we must take a stand against large scale solar developments in Rutland, which pose a significant threat to our best and most versatile land.

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“The green transition is vital and urgent, but it must not be built at the expense of sacrificing our productive agricultural land we are reliant upon.”

Douglas Reid, director of Rutland Solar Action Group, said: “We are absolutely in favour of green energy, but instead of industrialising farmland we should first make solar panels mandatory on all new houses and industrial buildings, with a policy to encourage solar on existing homes and commercial premises.

“We call on Rutland County Council to hear our voice, and the voices of many who attended our public meeting, to develop appropriate policy for truly sustainable energy generation in Rutland in the new Local Plan – and stop speculative solar development on farmland.”

Speakers at the meeting also included Ron Simpson of CPRE Rutland, the countryside charity, and Coun Philip Giles from Morcott Parish Council.

Rutland Solar Action Group formed after plans for Staveley Solar Farm were unveiled in January 2023.

The project is proposed by Bluestone Energy and Anglian Water on former iron ore quarry land now used for farming.

The people behind Staveley Solar Farm say most of the land is not classed as the ‘best and most versatile’ agricultural land and only offers a low yield of arable crops, which they say is ‘increasingly uneconomical for the current farm to sustain’.

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If the scheme is given the go ahead, about 10% to 15% of the energy generated would be used at Anglian Water’s water treatment works in Wing.

About 75% to 80% of the energy would be used by Anglian Water to reduce its overall carbon footprint. Remaining energy would be supplied to the national grid.

Anglian Water wants to become a net-zero carbon organisation within seven years.

The maximum power output of the solar farm - based on good light levels and sunshine - would be 40 megawatts, which is the equivalent of powering 19,600 homes a year.

A spokesperson for Staveley Solar Farm said they wouldn’t be commenting on the meeting but encourage people to email info@staveleysolar.co.uk if they have any questions.

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