Second plan for solar farm revealed

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It looks like a solar-centred summer for Harborough, as plans for a second big solar energy farm near the town have just been submitted to Harborough District Council.

This second application is for a site north-west of Beeches Farm, Theddingworth, and would cover 185 acres of farmland in total.

The solar panels would cover an area of 110 acres – equivalent to 62 football pitches.

The solar farm scheme featured in last week’s Mail would be on land off Clack Hill, just 400 metres from the south-eastern edge of Harborough, and called Braybrooke Solar Phorovoltaic Park.

If both planning requests were to be granted, Harborough would have a total of 132 football pitches worth of solar panels within three miles of the town.

The Theddingworth Solar Farm is a full planning application to Harborough Council, submitted by Abbey Renewables Solar Energy, based in Peterborough. It would be capable of generating up to 30MW of power, which could supply up to 8,000 homes.

The applicant says it will also be creating a wildlife habitat on the “well-contained and screened” site. It contains a badger-protection area.

The site lies to the north-west of the Theddingworth Conservation Area and village centre.

But the applicant claims the proposal would have “low potential impact on the local community”.

“Visually, it’s nowhere near the impact of a wind turbine, it’s silent and after construction there are hardly any vehicles in and out,” says the scheme’s agent David Mead.

“From a distance it’s a purple-grey, not unlike a large field of lavender. This site is also on the poorest- quality agricultural land in the district.”

Theddingworth Parish Council chairman Michael Rainey said: “There’s no definitive view from the village yet.

“I think people are in a slight state of shock, because it’s a big scheme and it’s close to the village.

“We have a meeting to discuss this planning application on Monday at 7.30pm in Theddingworth Village Hall and Mr Mead will be attending.

“We hope to have a clearer idea after that meeting.”

Last month the Government’s Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles rejected a plan for a large solar farm in Hacheston, Suffolk, because it would have a “major adverse impact on the countryside”.

His decision was considered a setback for the solar energy industry, and evidence that the Government is running out of money to support renewable energy schemes.

Campaigners say it makes the correct siting of solar farms even more important.

A spokesman for Harborough Council said: “This application will be assessed as part of normal planning procedure.”