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Anglian Water and Bluestone Energy’s Staveley Solar Farm will soon be decided by Rutland County Council

Whether or not a solar farm is given the go-ahead could be decided in a matter of weeks.

Plans for Staveley Solar Farm were unveiled by Anglian Water and Bluestone Energy in January last year.

They held public consultations to give people an opportunity to say what they like or dislike about the initial scheme before plans were revised and submitted.

Rutland MP Alicia Kearns (Con) at a meeting about the solar farm plan held in Morcott Village Hall last year
Rutland MP Alicia Kearns (Con) at a meeting about the solar farm plan held in Morcott Village Hall last year

Now a planning application has been lodged with Rutland County Council, which will determine how 86 hectares of land south of Pilton is used.

Rutland Solar Action Group formed to oppose the scheme, saying it was in favour of renewable energy but against farmland being given over to solar panels.

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Its petition has so far attracted 865 signatures.

Land that could be affected by the proposed Staveley Solar Farm
Land that could be affected by the proposed Staveley Solar Farm

On Rutland Solar Action Group’s website, members encourage objections to “a development that offers no direct benefit to our village communities”, telling people how to lodge views about planning application 2024/0300/MAF with Rutland County Council.

The website continues: “The need for renewable energy does not override either the planning concerns of local communities or environmental protections.

“Every household member may object, regardless of where they live.”

It then lists reasons to object that may be considered by the council’s planning committee, including visual effect on the landscape, that about half of the development site falls within a special protection area, that traffic and noise generated during construction would be ‘significant’, and that lapwings and skylarks, both red list conservation species, are present.

The area earmarked for the proposed Staveley Solar Farm. Image: Bluestone Energy/Anglian Water
The area earmarked for the proposed Staveley Solar Farm. Image: Bluestone Energy/Anglian Water

Bluestone Energy held a public consultation last year and a spokesperson for the project said they were aware of Rutland Solar Action Group and the community’s concerns.

A spokesperson for Bluestone Energy said: “There is a clear need to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, and significantly increase electricity generation by renewable means across the country. Staveley Solar Farm site presents a number of favourable factors regarding selection as a suitable site for solar PV development including position, proximity to suitable grid connection points and consumer, as well as accessibility. The plans for Staveley Solar Farm represent an important opportunity to increase green energy production in a manner that will support local agriculture as well as a local water supplier.

“The site was historically used for quarrying and the majority of the site has been assessed to comprise land which is not ‘Best and Most Versatile Agricultural Land’. 59ha of the 80ha site area is lower quality agricultural land and of that 51.9 ha has been assessed to comprise Grade 4 ‘Poor Quality Agricultural Land’ and 7.1ha Grade 3b ‘Moderate Agricultural Quality’ land. The agricultural land quality will not be adversely affected, except for the modest areas required for tracks and bases for the transformers/inverters. This amounts to only 0.2 ha of land of BMV quality. The solar farm has been designed to allow existing sheep grazing to continue and is an element of farm diversification that will support food production on the wider farmstead in the long term.

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

“The preparation of the planning application for Staveley Solar Farm has included local community consultation, and the views of local residents were taken into consideration in the design evolution and the mitigation proposals. All documents are now available on the Rutland County Council website for public comments application ref. 2024/0300/MAF.

“Although not a material planning consideration, we agree that community benefit packages can contribute to creating more resilient, inclusive, and prosperous local communities. As a response to the community engagement, the original community benefit proposal was reviewed. The developers are now working on the fund structure and principles and are open to hearing from the local community on the key areas or projects they think could benefit. Updates on the community benefit fund proposal will be available on the project website at www.staveleysolarfarm.co.uk and contributions for the community benefit parameters are welcome via info@staveleysolar.co.uk

“If approved, Staveley Solar Farm would be a critical project in helping to decarbonise Rutland’s water supply and helping the UK reach its target to become carbon neutral by 2050.”

Based on some of the feedback received, the project design was refined before the planning application was submitted to Rutland County Council.

Energy generated by the proposed Staveley Solar Farm would mainly supply Anglian Water.

Between 10% and 15% would be used at the Wing Water Treatment Works and a further 75% to 80% would be used by Anglian Water to decarbonise its operations. Remaining energy would be exported to the National Grid.

People have until April 12 to submit comments on the application to Rutland County Council via the planning portal on its website and using the reference 2024/0300/MAF, or by writing to: Planning, Rutland County Council, Catmose, Oakham, Rutland LE15 6HP.

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