Knebworth Parish Council to contribute £5,000 to help fund solar farm battle

Councillor Steve Hemingway.

Councillor Steve Hemingway. - Credit: Archant

A £5,000 contribution to a fighting fund which will help opponents battle against plans for a solar farm on the edge of Knebworth has been agreed by parish councillors.

The field where the proposed solar farm would be built

The field where the proposed solar farm would be built - Credit: Archant

They agreed by six votes to three to put cash from the Knebworth Parish Council reserves into the fund, although concerns have been expressed that they are not representing the views of the village.

The 40-acre solar park is being developed at Swangleys Farm in Swangleys Lane by Solstice Renewables.

On Monday about 25 members of the public took part in a debate at Knebworth Village Hall to put their feelings across on whether the council should put money into the fund.

Only six people were from the village and the rest came from Datchworth and Woolmer Green.

Councillor Rob Proctor voted against the motion to put money forward. He said: “I do have grave concerns. Should we as a parish spend £5,000 of parishioners money amongst a backdrop of declining reserves? I am not convinced that the majority of people support this.”

Councillor Steve Hemingway, who is also a district councillor and abstained from voting on the night, said: “I think if we do not support it then the inquiry will be a bit of a damp squib and will not resolve anything.”

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The solar park was given planning permission by North Herts District Council in December but has now been called in by the government with a public inquiry expected later this year.

Plans for a fighting fund were put forward by Datchworth Parish Council, which has also agreed to put in £5,000.

Woolmer Green councillors agreed to put in £2,500, saying they were a smaller parish.

About £30,000 is needed to pay for expert lawyers to argue the case against the development at the public inquiry.