Green Party councillor who won by 13 votes speaks out against Mallard Pass solar farm development
A new Green Party councillor who narrowly beat a Tory in a Rutland County Council by-election has spoken out against a proposed solar farm.
Rick Wilson was announced as the winner of yesterday's by-election for the Ryhall and Casterton ward and beat his Conservative opponent Richard Foster by just 13 votes. The seat was previously held by Tory Richard Coleman, who resigned in November.
Coun Wilson said he was "shellshocked by the result" but believes his clear opposition to the proposed Mallard Pass solar farm development and to the proposal for 650 homes at Quarry Farm helped him to victory.
Coun Wilson said that while he believes in renewable energy, he is against the "colossal size" of the solar farm. If approved it would cover an area equivalent to 1,400 football pitches around the village where he lives - Essendine - and between Stamford, Ryhall, Uffington, Greatford, Carlby and Braceborough.
"It's going to envelop the area. Where I live, it almost circles the village and it is just going to be overwhelming," Coun Wilson, 57, said.
"We do need renewable energy which has been brought into sharper focus by recent world events, but there are other green initiatives we can pursue and there are more suitable locations."
The solar farm plans have been widely criticised, including by Rutland MP Alicia Kearns (Con). Although the ultimate decision will not rest with Rutland County Council - it will be decided by the Government Planning Inspectorate because of the size - Coun Wilson hopes his new role will help him to share people's views.
"It will be good to be part of a larger voice to oppose this development," he added.
Another issue Coun Wilson feels strongly about is a proposal to build 650 homes at Quarry Farm on the border of Rutland and Stamford.
"Again it's just another huge development which is far too big and in the wrong location. The suggestion of the country park just isn't going to be the same as what it is there at the moment."
Although he has been involved behind the scenes in politics, it is his first role as a councillor. He works as a freelance journalist and photographer, including as editor of Diecast Collector published by Bourne firm Warners Midlands.
Coun Wilson said he is looking forward to working with his new council colleagues and getting to grips with important issues, including Rutland's Local Plan, which the council is rewriting.
"It is certainly an interesting time to join the council. There is a lot to unpick and learn. It will be a steep learning curve but I am up for the challenge and I believe I can make a difference."