Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Nottingham Post
Nottingham Post
Laycie Beck

Concern Nottinghamshire village will turn into 'industrial heartland' amid huge solar farm plan

A group of Nottinghamshire neighbours fear their peaceful village could turn into an 'industrial heartland' if plans for a new solar farm are given the green light. Plans have been submitted to Rushcliffe Borough Council for a farm on a 233 acre stretch of land close to Hawksworth and Thoroton, near Bingham.

Officials say it would generate around 49.9MW of renewable electricity, which is enough to power approximately 15,200 homes every year. However, opponents in The Hawksworth and Thoroton Action Group fears the borough risks being dominated by solar power farms, following a large site being approved near Ratcliffe on Soar and others across the county.

The group is against the planning application for the solar farm off Longhedge Lane by Renewable Energy Systems (RES). It states the land proposed is prime agricultural land that produces enough wheat each year for 1.5million loaves of bread, and that the land will be lost forever if used as a solar farm. There are also concerns about the loss of local wildlife, the impact on the landscape, cyclists, equestrians and how the solar farm is so large it cannot be hidden.

Read More: TSB to close Nottinghamshire branch in May as 'more people use online banking'

Residents in Hawksworth and Thoroton have also raised concerns over the impact of construction traffic. Additionally, there is concern amongst residents the site was selected due to an easier connection for the grid, despite the fact it could turn a peaceful village into "an industrial heartland."

Neil Smith (Laycie Beck)

A spokesperson for the action group, Neil Smith said: "This is rich arable very productive land, and the actual area in question fills basically the complete conservation area between the villages. It's something like 160,000 solar panels and that goes right up to the edge of both villages."

He continued: "Then there is the heritage side of it, this is registered heritage landscape, it forms part of South Aslockton and North Belvoir landscape which is rich in agricultural farmland, hedging, woodland. It is rural, it is not industrial, there are no real industrial sites anywhere in that landscape.

"From the land involved you can not see a chimney from an industrial site, let alone any big warehouses or any large metal structures, but we would be completely filled with solar panels, sub stations and inverter stations, which are effectively metal sheds to convert the electricity."

Neil added that the area is known for its "beautiful rural environment" and that introducing a solar farm this large would completely ruin the area. The application for the site was submitted in December 2022.

RES has stated the proposal has been through a detailed design process, and a number of changes were made due to site surveys, assessments, and feedback from the community and stakeholders. This includes reductions to the number and height of the panels, to ensure the solar farm fits sensitively into the existing landscape whilst maximising the low carbon, cheap electricity generation.

Claire Chamberlain, Development Project Manager at RES, said: “Solar projects like Longhedge are quick to deploy, enable more energy to be generated domestically improving security of supply and contribute to Net Zero targets. They are also the cheapest form of new electricity generation, alongside onshore and offshore wind.

Part of the proposed site for the solar farm (Laycie Beck)

"This proposal supports Rushcliffe Borough Council’s goal to be carbon neutral by 2030 and furthermore, the solar farm has also been specifically designed to enable continued prime agricultural use in the form of sheep farming alongside the production of renewable electricity. Sheep farming provides employment, supports rural economies, and landscapes managed by grazing sheep support a rich diversity of wildlife, while producing food.

"Longhedge Solar Farm will enable the ground underneath to recover after intensive farming, while providing income for the farming business.” Other members of the action group have also shared their concerns and reasons for not wanting the solar farm.

Retired, Nigel Maddison, 73, has lived in the area for 35 years. He said: "It's a beautiful area, it really is. We are disgusted that they are planning to put a solar farm on top grade agricultural land. It's grade one, two and three agricultural land.

"The size is around 200 football pitches and it's going to ruin the area. It's huge and it should be used for food."

Retired Sarah Hadfield, 72, of Hawksworth, added: "We have loads and loads of wildlife, we have a beck that is full of not just frogs and toads but other amphibians too. All of that will be ruined as the local wildlife will just go. It's not the fact that we don't need energy but the fact that we need farming.

"I have lived here for 40 years and those fields have been growing crops every year." Sarah added that with "all these lorries coming in and out" the roads in the area will continue to get worse.

Speaking of the solar farm plans, retired Margaret Maddison Von Schomberg, 75, said: "They have not thought it through very well. We are just saying what the whole village says.

"When we get 80 lorries hurtling down here there's going to be problems."

Read Next:

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.