Energy park protestors win the first battle

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Tenant farmers in the Crowland area have been given a glimmer of hope in the battle to stop prime agricultural land being turned into an energy park.

Controversial plans have been adjourned by Peterborough City Council so archeological work can be carried out.

The planning committee met at the Town Hall on Monday evening to decide whether an application for the first solar farm at Morris Fen at Thorney should go ahead.

This is part of a wider plan for 3,000 acres of wind and solar farms on prime agricultural land in the area bordering Crowland.

Scores of protestors against the scheme gathered outside the town hall over an hour before the start of the meeting to make their feelings known, chanting and shouting against the scheme.

The plans had been recommended for approval, but following a letter from English Heritage stating that further archaeological digs could be required at the sites, council planning officers changed their advice to the committee and recommended the application be deferred.

And a further hurdle for the scheme emerged when the council confirmed it had received a letter from the Secretary of State Eric Pickles warning that he would call in the plans if they were to be approved.

Committee members unanimously voted to adjourn the application until a later date.

When the panel was also informed that the Secretary of State had contacted the council over the option of calling the scheme in, there were loud cheers from the packed public gallery.

John Harris is a tenant at Lodge Farm in Black Drove, Thorney, where a solar farm is also planned. He says he is delighted about the deferment.

He said: “The battle is not won yet but I am delighted this decision has been made.

“I have always said that it is madness for prime agricultural land to be used in this way.

“If we win and I can retire and a young farmer is able to take this farm on then I will be a happy man.”