Landmark bid for solar farm gets green light

A solar panel farm
A solar panel farm

A landmark plan for a 41-acre solar panels site – the largest of its kind for the district – was approved this week by a council’s planning committee.

The solar farm will be constructed in open countryside to the north of Houghton on the Hill, a village in the north of the Harborough district.

The 2.1MW solar “array” will consist of 8,640 fixed panels, plus a sub-station and control room, means of access, perimeter CCTV and fencing.

The solar farm could provide energy for 644 households, councillors heard at Tuesday night’s meeting of the planning committee.

Members were told the panels would not be more than 2.28m high, and not visible from the nearby village’s Conservation Area.

The man behind the scheme, Ingarsby Hall’s owner and former racing driver Brian Henton, told the meeting that he wanted not only to create green energy but to provide an extra income for the estate he owns, which he said had only been in profit ‘five times in 25 years’.

He said he would use some of the money to repair Ingarsby’s dilapidated 16th century chapel, part of the Grade II*-listed site.

But Houghton resident Simon Warner claimed the scheme “flies totally in the face of local opinion”.

Other objectors said the plan was unsuitable for rural south Leicestershire and access to the site was poor.

A petition against the scheme was signed by 250 people.

In a letter, Houghton on the Hill Parish Council said it wanted “as much screening as possible” around the site.

But council officers summed up: “The public benefits of the proposal outweigh the development’s less than substantial harm to the setting of heritage assets.

“The proposal should be approved without delay.”