150,000 solar panels could be built on Green Belt

How the solar farm could look

How the solar farm could look - Credit: AGR 4 Solar Limited

A solar farm the size of more than 88 football pitches could be built on Green Belt land between three North Herts villages, according to new plans.

AGR 4 Solar Limited has applied to build a solar farm of 88 hectares across the space between Great Wymondley, Graveley and Little Wymondley, which could stand for up to 40 years.

Following the submission of the plans on December 14, residents have raised concerns that the development would “create a blight on our landscape” and threaten the quality of life for residents in the surrounding villages.

On the district council’s planning portal, 13 objections have been raised so far with one saying approval of the plans would amount to “environmental vandalism”.

Other neighbours have raised concerns about the height of CCTV pillars and fences, which one resident said could make “driving to Great Wymondley from Graveley like driving through a demilitarised zone”.

The applicant said the scheme would deliver renewable energy and contribute to the significant investment needed to meet the Government’s targets of reaching net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The scheme would include around 150,000 solar panels, as well as 22 transformer stations and 22 battery storage containers. 

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The solar farm would export up to 49.995MWe of renewable energy to the National Grid during peak operation.

AGR 4 Solar Limited argue the scheme can be classed as very special circumstances to allow for building on the Green Belt. 

Their Green Belt assessment found there “would be no harm” to the Green Belt in the prevention of neighbouring towns merging into one another, or in preserving the setting and special character of historic towns.

The applicant said there be limited harm to the green belt purpose of unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas, and to the purpose of assisting in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment. 

The solar farm would have an operational life of up to 40 years before it would be decommissioned, and the land would then be returned to agricultural use.

In a planning statement submitted to the council, AGR 4 Solar Limited argued the benefits of the scheme would outweigh any concerns about the green belt.

The applicant said: “If North Hertfordshire are serious about their commitment to tackling the climate change emergency action is required now to dramatically alter the current path of future greenhouse gas emissions within the district and nationally.”

The statement added, “there is a demonstrable need for the Proposed Development and the significant environmental, economic and social benefits it would deliver.”

Residents can register their comments about the application (ref: 21/03380/FP) until January 20.

A decision on the application is expected during March.