Plans revealed for a 50-acre solar farm near Hitchin

An example of what the solar farm could look like

An example of what the solar farm could look like - Credit: Archant

Plans to build a 50-acre solar farm on Green Belt land has been put forward to a district council.

Green Energy UK is currently investigating the possibility of constructing a solar farm on land off Stevenage Road in St Ippolyts.

The company has submitted a ‘screening letter’ to North Herts District Council, ahead of any potential planning application for the 51.3-acre site which would border Stevenage Road, Tittendell Lane and Little Almshole Lane.

The solar farm would be used as a large-scale renewable electricity source which would be connected to the National Grid.

A report submitted to NHDC last week states: “There are a few houses to the north-west that do overlook the site as the hedgerows are low, as such additional planting will be required. Three roads, Stevenage Road, Tittendell Lane and Little Almshole Lane form the boundary of the site. All have trees and hedgerows that offer some natural screening. On the opposite side of Stevenage Road is the large Wymondley electricity sub-station.”

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The report also states that during any potential construction – lasting an estimated 12 weeks – there would be increased traffic, noise and the construction of a temporary haul road.

Chris Parker, chairman of Keep Hitchin Special said: “We understand that 50 acres will comprise of approximately 30,000 solar panels and provide enough energy for 1,670 homes each day.

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Because of the height of panels – 2.3m – and the fact that it is surrounded by trees and hedgerow, it should not be that visible other than from the air. It will certainly be less of a blot on the landscape than a wind farm – a typical example locally is the block of wind turbines in Langford which is visible from the A1 and must have depreciated the value of property in that area.

“Maybe the solar farm is not green if we consider the loss of land for agriculture but we do realise we need to find alternative ways of fuelling this country and maybe this is a good start.”

Chris Honey, a former member of the now defunct environmental group Hitchin in Transition, said: “It is brilliant, it’s just the sort of thing we need in our area. It’s in a screened off area of land so it shouldn’t upset residents nearby. I say thumbs up to it and Hitchin is an ideal town for it.”

Regarding the screening letter, David Scholes, NHDC’s chief executive, said: “This is not a planning application and so there is no requirement under the regulations to consult with the public.

“The advice given to the applicant will be put on the planning register and can be viewed by the public. There will be public consultation when a planning application is received.”

The owner of the land, Hugh Neave, told the Comet he had not yet been made aware of the plans.

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