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Lincolnshire County Council will not support solar farms on highest-grade farmland

Lincolnshire County Council will not support solar panels on the highest-grade farmland.

The authority’s executive committee reviewed its Energy Infrastructure Position, with Coun Colin Davie, portfolio holder for energy and environment, emphasising that the county’s policy does not endorse solar farms on grade one, two, or 3A land.

The policy may consider grade 3B land, but only to facilitate access to poorer quality or brownfield land.

Coun Colin Davie
Coun Colin Davie

Lincolnshire is under a lot of pressure from a considerable number of Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) for solar, connectivity and offshore wind,” Coun Davie said.

“Some of these have the capacity to alter permanently the landscapes of Lincolnshire.”

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He stressed the county’s ambition to become the UK Food Valley and a major food producer.

Lincolnshire County Council won't back solar farms on highest-grade agricultural farms
Lincolnshire County Council won't back solar farms on highest-grade agricultural farms

“I sometimes worry that government is so obsessed with its 2050 (net zero) ambition that it has lost sight of some of the other things that are critically important at a local level for people, communities and business,” Coun Davie continued.

The county is currently facing proposals for at least 13 major solar farms on around 1% of current land mass, which could power approximately 1.3 million households annually.

However, there is growing concern about the impact on agricultural land.

Most of these proposals will be decided by the Planning Inspectorate, as their size and national significance require national-level approval.

Council officer Andy Gutherson reassured the committee that existing planning policies were adequate, providing a strong framework for recommendations and highlighting the importance of prime agricultural land to the economy

Officers were also given key areas to negotiate better benefits for the county, should developments get given the go ahead against their wishes.

“We’ve received a high number of NSIP applications in general — at the last count more than 30 — and that’s creating a significant demand on the planning service,” he told councillors.

Coun Davie confirmed the council’s continued opposition to onshore wind farms, favouring offshore alternatives, provided they connect to the county through underground or offshore means.

He said: “The economic value down the Lincolnshire coast is about £800 million a year.

“It is so significant to remember that putting an industrial line of structures through that will cause immense harm and compensation will never meet the losses caused by it.”

Coun Richard Butroid echoed these sentiments, emphasising the need for appropriate solar use in Lincolnshire, rather than a profit-driven, widespread approach.

“We’re having so much solar in my particular area and it is a real concern to my residents,” he said.

“Hopefully we can have appropriate use of solar across Lincolnshire, rather than this widespread, try and catch all and make a profit before anything else approach.”

A number of major proposals have hit the headlines in recent months – with the Mallard Pass development having the potential to be the UK’s largest solar farm, with plans to straddle the Lincolnshire and Rutland border.

Solar farm plans have been opposed by South Holland and the Deepings MP Sir John Hayes – but Green campaigners in the area have also said they are ‘ambivalent’ about such developments, feeling the panels would be better placed on buildings than on prime growing land.

What do you think? Do you support solar farms in our countryside? Post your thoughts in the comments below.

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