Solar farm plans for Sookholme opposed by residents and parish council

Sookholme smalholder Mark Burton on the site of the proposed solar farm
Sookholme smalholder Mark Burton on the site of the proposed solar farm

Warsop Parish Councillors are backing residents in their opposition to plans to build a solar farm on farmland at Sookholme.

They backed residents at a meeting of Warsop Parish Council on Monday where more than 30 voiced their concerns about plans to build a solar farm on farmland next to the hamlet.

Plans for a 10 megawatt 40,000 panel solar park have been submitted to Mansfield District Council by renewable energy developer TW Solar.

Speaking at the meeting at Warsop Parish Council offices, Vice chairman of the council, John Allin, said: “I think we are getting too many solar farms in this area now.

“They are trying to use agricultural land which should be farmed for food.”

Coun Stuart Moody added: “We can’t make the decisions, but we can object to it strongly.”

The development would include an up to 10 mw solar photovoltaic park with accompanying access track, transformer and inverter stations, two substations, security fencing and CCTV cameras.

The application says the development would take place on three fields on Grade 2 agricultural land. Construction would take from 3-4 months and the site is expected to be operational for 25 years.

It would generate approximately 8,435,000 kwh of electricity enough to power 2,350 average homes.

The consultation period started on September 15 and ends on October 12.

Resident, Mark Burton, whose smallholding backs on to the proposed development, described the project as an ill-conceived complete misuse of the land and said the community had no consultation whatsoever.

He said the fields had always been high quality arable land, graded as high-yield crops such as wheat or barley, and there is a planning constraint on planning permission for that grade of land.

there are places of historical interest with in the developed area, with a Roman tile kiln in what would be field three, with ongoing archaeology taking place.

Mr Burton said: “We have an ecology report with impact on local wildlife and plant species and there are badger sets on what is field two.

“The site will have a 3m galvanised steel fence around it.

“They say they will screen that with hedgerows and trees, but I think the landscape we have now will not exist.”

He said TW Solar had been invited to the Parish Council meeting to give a presentation to the council but had not attended.

He said “TW Solar made no contact to say they wouldn’t be there. We couldn’t raise any issues we had with the plans.

“The commmunity is grouping together - we are all in opposition to it and we will be putting our case to Mansfield District Council planning department. The Parish Council is supporting us.”

He added that there was a proliferation of similar schemes in the local area on brown field sites.

Mr Burton added: “We have wind turbines in Mansfield and other solar schemes going ahead.

“I Think we have reached the tipping point in our obligation.

“In a small rural area we have 40 or 50 MW of renewable electricity being generated locally already.

“The only benefit in this proposal would be that Warsop Parish Council would receive £200,000.”

TW Solar concludes in its planning application that the application would ‘not have a detrimental effect on the character and amenity of the surrounding area’.

It adds: “It does not have an adverse impact on areas of natural, cultural, historic and archaeological interest.

“It does not cause harm to the amenity of residential and other surrounding established uses due visual dominance reflected light and shadow flicker.”