Energy park plan ‘for personal reasons’

Villagers have turned out in Sutton St James to support plans for the county’s biggest renewable energy park.

The meeting was held at the village hall, with organisers claiming more than 50 out of 65 people have confirmed their support for the project.

Hosted by B E Renewables Limited, the solar developer in charge of the plans, Deborah Wright, who owns the land on which the park would be developed, also attended.

Deborah said she wanted the park for very personal reasons: “After losing my husband, Robert, in 2006 I decided I would try to continue with farming as I wanted to give my boys, then four and six, the opportunity to go into farming, should they wish to in the future.

“I chose to diversify into solar as it is a clean, carbon friendly, naturally produced energy – it has been designed to provide a low visual impact.

“This project will help me to support the rest of my farm and keep employing local people by creating local jobs.

“My eldest son in particular has farming in his blood, therefore I wish to keep it sustainable to give him a chance to have a go in a few years’ time.”

Fendyke Solar has been designed to provide a low visual impact. The modules will be restricted so that at their highest point they are no greater than ~1.8m above ground level.

The perimeter of the fields are all well set-back from the adjoining roads, with the wild flower meadows and heavy standard tree planting and British native species hedgerow is are used to provide perimeter screening.

Buffer zones provided to these areas of Old Fendyke and northern Bardlings Drove and Broadgate stretch 50 metres and 25 metres. The perimeter fence in these areas is enhanced by use of a traditional beech or willow ‘wattle fence’.

Resident Jennifer Garbet (67) has “no problem” with the plans for the energy park using 81 acres of land in the Old Fendyke area and thinks the park will benefit residents.

Jennifer said: “To be honest, my generation probably won’t benefit too much from this but the younger generation will.

“There are going to be problems with electricity in the future and – as I certainly don’t fancy nuclear power – it would be awful coming home one day to no electricity.

“Obviously nothing’s infallible, and things do go wrong, but I believe that solar panels are a good thing.”

Jennifer says that there has been a lot of tension in the village regarding the plans.

She said: “Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and, of course, some people aren’t going to be very happy about the plans.”

Deborah said: “The meeting went very well and we had a very positive response.

“A lot of people came down to draw their own conclusions about the scheme and the presentation showed people how they will benefit from the farm, including the community benefit fund, which could be up to £18,000.”