Pictured left to right: Michelle Hall, Tony Bingle, Eileen Smith, Byron Ward, Lesley Marson, Rt. Hon. Nigel Adams MP, Louise Harrison, Dave Wilkinson and Janet Hawley.
A solar farm covering nearly 300 acres near Camblesforth was approved last year. Two more solar farms are now proposed and the size and number of proposals is now a major concern to local residents. The larger of the two new proposals would cover about 3 square miles and stretch from Camblesforth out past West Bank to Hirst Courtney, Temple Hirst, Burn and nearly as far as Barlow where a separate large battery store has been proposed.
Residents from Camblesforth, Burn and Hirst Courtney met with local MP Nigel Adams at Camblesforth Hall to explain their concerns about the scale of the proposals, the loss of productive farmland and the impact that being surrounded by solar panels would have on them. The largest of the three proposals would cover about 3 square miles ( about 1000 football pitches) and be one of the largest in the country, five or six times larger than a typical large solar farm. The three solar farms, if all were approved, would cover about 4 square miles with solar panels and associated infrastructure.
The meeting between local residents and the Selby & Ainsty MP, Rt. Hon. Nigel Adams was organized by HALT, the group opposing the largest of the proposals. All three solar farms around Camblesforth were discussed as a well as another very large proposal in East Yorkshire that would connect into the grid via Drax.
The HALT group explained their concerns about the loss of productive farmland and the environmental impact of having nearly four square miles of fields around their homes covered with solar panels – stretching literally for miles. It is open farmland which provides pleasure and breathing space to the village communities, as well as large scale food production. The concern within the community is that people would feel imprisoned within a massive solar farm when they currently feel connected with the open countryside, despite having Drax power station close by.
Speaking at the meeting Nigel Adams said “While we need more renewable energy we also need to grow our own food. It is of concern that so much of our best agricultural land could be lost from production in this way. We need to strike the right balance and I will be speaking about this with Parliamentary colleagues.” Nigel lived in Camblesforth when he was young and fully accepted the concerns of residents about the size of the proposal.
Much of the discussion in the meeting was about the size of the proposal and the way in which the planning application will be decided once it has been submitted. The project is so large that the decision will be taken by Secretary of State, as it is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project. A planning application has not yet been submitted and it is only when an application has been submitted that comments can be submitted. The application is expected to be submitted later this year and will be examined by a Planning Inspector who will then report back to the Secretary of State who will make the final decision.
Lesley Marson, of the HALT Group, after the meeting said “This was a very productive meeting and I am grateful that Nigel Adams was able to come to the village on a Saturday afternoon and meet with us. The discussion about the planning process was very helpful and gives us confidence going forward. I think that residents are beginning to realize that having so many solar farms surrounding our homes would totally change the character of the area and have a serious impact on our quality of life.”