2:00pm Monday 25th August 2014
By Charlotte Ikonen
Countryside campaigners in south west Hertfordshire have been inundated with calls from concerned residents about a solar farm proposal in Harpenden.
The proposal adds to the already lengthy list of schemes across the county, with others sites proposed in Redbourn, Wheathampstead and Luton.
In Harpenden, up to 54 acres of land could be covered with solar panels at a farm in Plummers Lane.
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) Hertfordshire has received calls from residents who are opposed to the farm.
CPRE Hertfordshire Director, Kevin FitzGerald, said: "Solar farms can bring benefits but they should be located where they do not destroy the natural beauty of the countryside.
"Nor should high grade agricultural land be sacrificed for energy production at a time when England’s food production has significantly reduced in the last 20 years."
Kevin believes the large number of proposals is the result of Prime Minister David Cameron’s hint that the government are looking to cut subsidies across environmental services.
The company behind the latest proposal say that the farm could generate enough energy to power up to 3,880 homes - saving 6,600 carbon emissions a year.
Conor McGuigan, planning and development director at Lightsource, said: "Once installed, a solar farm is remarkably passive in nature which allows plenty of scope for diversification.
"As the solar panels would occupy less than 30 per cent of the site, the rest of the land can be used for a variety of agricultural uses.
"Biodiversity enhancements on the sites can also encourage and protect local wildlife - such as wildflower seeding to encourage bees and insects, log pile habitats for reptiles and amphibians, as well as bird, bat and barn owl boxes to encourage nesting and roosting in the area."
The application is for temporary planning permission, and the site would be managed by Lighsource for 25 years.
It is estimated the solar farm would take about two months to install, averaging about six deliveries per day for each site during daylight hours.
The countryside campaigners believe the most suitable location for solar technologies is on industrial and other buildings with major roof surfaces. Far more use can be made of the roofs of large, industrial units.
Mr McGuigan added: "Energy security is an important issue for Britain at the moment, but it has to be addressed in the right way. If we are to move away from our reliance on importing expensive fossil fuels we must look towards renewable alternatives. The flexibility and passive nature of solar farms offers a viable source of clean, home-grown energy."
People can view the application at: www.lightsource-re.co.uk
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