Revised plans for a massive solar farm on land at Sutton St James are expected to get the go-ahead on Wednesday.
Fendyke Solar Ltd made a previous bid to change the use of agricultural land at Fendyke Farm, off Old Fendyke, but that was refused by South Holland District Council earlier this year – partly because it would have taken top quality grade 1 agricultural land out of production.
The revised application has removed all of the grade 1 land from solar panel use although land classed as “best and most versatile” will still be used.
Council planning officers are recommending approval despite objections from South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes and the majority of the 90 residents who have commented on the application.
Mr Hayes quotes fellow Government ministers who have said “large inappropriately sited solar farms must not be allowed to undermine public support for solar power” and new rules from 2015 will end farmers’ rights to claim subsidies for solar farms – which follows other Government steps designed to end support for solar farms in agricultural fields.
The solar farm will cover 19.2 hectares (47.4 acres) and have 56,600 solar PV panels standing about 2m high. Peak output is expected to be 17.55MW, which could power 3,410 homes and save 9,858 tonnes of CO2 from being produced.
Resident Bella Faulkner said the village already has a 50 acre solar farm and two in the pipeline.
She said: “If this one goes through, we will probably be called ‘Solar St James’. I don’t disagree with green energy but it should be on factory roofs or brownfield sites. I just don’t think land should be taken out of agricultural use.”
Another resident, Greg Barker, backs the scheme and says it will support the local community through a benefit fund estimated to provide £600,000 over the 25-year lifetime of the project.