Villagers in Newton on Trent are rallying in support of a proposed 740MW solar farm, which could become one of the largest in the UK. Residents view solar energy as “the way forward” and are backing the plans put forward by the Danish multinational energy company Ørsted.
The conglomerate this week unveiled plans for its first UK solar project, the One Earth Solar Farm. Once operational, this renewable energy source is expected to provide power to over 200,000 homes annually.
The proposed site for the solar farm spans land on both sides of the River Trent, south of Dunham on Trent and Newton on Trent, on both sides of the Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire border As its capacity exceeds 50MW, the project has been deemed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) and as such will be determined by the Planning Inspectorate.
Several Newton on Trent villagers are already embracing the shift to renewable energy, with many installing solar panels on their homes and adopting electric vehicles. Although she acknowledged that the development would take up a significant amount of farmland, Janice Catchbourne, 68, remained supportive of the project.
She said: “I just agree with everything we’re trying to do to reduce our carbon footprint. It’s a vast area, I must admit, but if they [Ørsted] do it respectfully, then I don’t think it’ll be a problem.
“I think people will appreciate the fact that the country is trying to do something because, after all, we are all suffering from the outcome of our carbon footprint.”
Similarly, Vicky Johnson, 36, expressed little concern about the scale of the project. She added: “I’m hoping that it will help villages cut costs with energy.”
Mike Capaldi, 66, first heard about the project when a leaflet was posted through his door just a few days ago. While he admitted to being a bit surprised, he remained hopeful that it would be good for the local community.
He said: “It’s got to be the way forward, or at least some combination of non-fossil fuel energy sources.”
In 2013, the government announced plans to compensate households living near new wind farm developments to incentivise them to accept them. Michael Strathman, 44, is hoping something similar can be done with solar projects.
He said: “The government is talking about compensating people who live near big renewable projects, saying that if they don’t give us much of a say in it, they can guarantee us cheaper electricity.”
Lincolnshire County Council has previously campaigned against numerous solar farm proposals presented over recent years. The council maintains that the county’s land could be better utilised as versatile farming land, with aspirations for Lincolnshire to be known as the nation’s breadbasket.
County councillor, Colin Davie, the portfolio holder for Economic Development, Environment, and Planning, expressed concerns over the “overwhelming” number of national infrastructure project proposals.
“Lincolnshire does appear to be under attack from further large-scale Nationally Significant Infrastructure energy applications,” he said.
“This new application closely follows a pattern, and is one of a significant number in a very close proximity to each other. This raises concern over the cumulative impact and the change to the character of the whole area.
“Our position is very clear, the best and versatile land in our county should be used for growing food. We should not in any way encourage the subsidy of farms through these giant energy schemes.
“This seems to be more about profit than ensuring a sustainable world for future generations.”