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Holbeach solar farm plan rejected after warning that Lincolnshire could become ‘dumping ground’

Campaigners celebrated as a controversial proposal for a 48MW solar farm was rejected by their district council. The public gallery erupted in loud applause after South Holland district councillors rejected the proposal, planned for land in Holbeach, at a planning committee meeting on Wednesday, February 7.

Had it been approved, the development was planned for 80 hectares of farmland north of Roman Bank in Holbeach, which had been categorised as the “best and most versatile”. Residents said that a “precedent has been set” for future applications, which have been the cause of consternation across the county.

At the meeting, a representative from AUK Energy said the proposed development was “temporary” and would significantly advance the region’s efforts towards carbon neutrality. They also highlighted that 97 per cent of South Holland’s land is classified as the “best and most versatile,” underscoring the difficulty of finding an alternative site of lower quality.

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Nevertheless, councillors were not persuaded and said the land should be preserved for agriculture. South Holland District Council leader Nick Worth, who attended the meeting in his capacity as the ward councillor and not as a member of the Planning Committee, said it was “not about NIMBYism” (Not In My Back Yard).

A wide view of Lincolnshire farmland.
The farmland in question.

He said people are drawn to the area for its “big open skies” and “unique character”. He added: “This is 200 acres of BMV land that should be used for farming, not energy. We should be producing more food, not less, particularly on the best land in the country.”

He warned against approving the application, arguing it could set a precedent for other proposals – some of which have already been submitted. He said: “Do you really want to become a dumping ground for solar panels?”

Councillor Henry Bingham expressed similar concerns, also pointing to the recently announced National Grid pylon plan from Grimsby to Walpole, as he argued that Lincolnshire is being “pillaged” by solar farms, overhead cables, and pylons.

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