Countryside champion backs solar farm bid on his land


- Credit: Archant

Villagers say they are appalled about plans to build a solar farm on Green Belt land.

Fields opposite Three Houses Lane in Codicote – owned by Sir Simon Bowes Lyon – have been earmarked for a 55-acre solar farm, after an application was submitted by Lightsource Renewable Energy earlier this month.

Sir Simon, who is the president of Campaign to Protect Rural England’s Herts branch, has backed the plans, which include a communications building, access tracks, fencing and CCTV.

Graeme Ellisdon, who lives in the road, said: “We were appalled by the opportunistic proposal by Lightsource Renewable Energy to build a 55-acre solar farm within Codicote. It is important to state at the outset that we are not against solar farms per se, but it is for the benefit of all that they are located in the most appropriate spaces. It is interesting to note that in countries where green field sites are more readily available than in our own, the trend is to look towards siting solar farms on the roofs of large industrial plants.

“The Bowes Lyon family own the land in question and have sanctioned the industrialisation of the fields, that needs to be exposed and questioned. This inappropriate industrialisation of the green belt of Hertfordshire is the beginning of something bigger, which, if this wrong-headed application is accepted, will affect all of us over time.”

Nick Pellett, who also lives in Three Houses Lane, said: “I am the most affected with a 350-yard frontage to Three Houses Lane and we will be able to see straight into the proposed development irrespective of any screening. The glare of the panels, the humming of the system will be a massive issue.

“Three Houses Lane is largely Green Belt land and it features ancient forest, a 100-acre bluebell wood, a wildflower meadow unique in Hertfordshire, ponds with newts, traditional hedged fields and rolling open countryside with far reaching views. Because of this, it is visited daily by walkers, joggers and cyclists in their hundreds as a beautiful local resource. It’s a great rarity today.”

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Sir Simon said: “We support solar energy as it has an important role to play in meeting renewable energy needs. We plan to put solar panels on a secluded, well screened field site surrounded by dense woodland and high hedgerows. It will replace low yielding arable crops, adding to our wild flower areas and habitat for wildlife, which can flourish in the extensive space between panels.”

A spokesman for the CPRE’s Herts branch, said: “We consider these proposals in relation to CPRE’s national guidance. Our policy guidance does not rule out solar farms, but it does say that they should meet important criteria — on protecting landscape and heritage, amenity and the best agricultural land, and maximising biodiversity.”