RENEWABLE energy developers behind a 55 acre solar park at Croft hope the scheme could boost tourism and employment with minimal impact on the landscape.
Juwi Renewable Energies has submitted plans to install 42,000 solar panels for the generation of 10 megawatts of energy - enough to meet the annual requirements of around 10,000 homes.
Juwi’s head of acquisition Richard Seaman believes Lincolnshire’s solar radiation level makes it viable for such a development and claims it could provide numerous benefits to the local community without significant impact on the surrounding countryside.
He said: “The solar park would go towards our country’s renewable energy targets, it’s low impact, quick to construct and once it’s up it’s low maintenance to run.
“We always look to use local labour to develop the site and local companies to supply fencing and do the ground work. I also think there could be a possible tourism benefit - Skegness is known as being ‘so bracing’ but with a solar park it could also be known as ‘sunny Skegness.”
Mr Seaman also expressed Juwi’s commitment to developing on only low grade agricultural or brown field sites and explained that in this case the land could still be used for sheep grazing.
The application is for a 25 year lease, which once concluded, Mr Seaman claims, could return the land to arable use, due to the low impact construction methods chosen.
Prior to this application, the majority of major renewable energy plans in this region have been for wind farms, which, due to their perceived visual impact on Lincolnshire’s wide open skies, have received widespread opposition from residents and local authorities.
The maximum height of this development is only two and a half metres, which Mr Seamen said would be naturally screened by hedgerows.
Other criticisms of major wind farm proposals have focused on their requirement for significant infrastructure projects such as cabling routes, pylons or large substations, which opponents fear would be as disruptive to the landscape as the turbines themselves.
Again, Mr Seaman has made assurances that any grid connections would be low impact and located on the site.
Coun Colin Davie, who has been vocal in his opposition to wind farm proposals along the coast, has expressed his cautious support for this project.
He said: “ I support this development because it will have a low impact in terms of its visibility and affect on the community, provided the developer ensures there are no issues with the connection to the National Grid.”
If plans are approved, Juwi hopes to begin construction in September for completion by the end of the year.