Irby residents’ anger over solar plant plans

Solar news.
Solar news.

Residents in and around Irby in the Marsh have launched a protest group over plans to install a 13 Megawatt solar farm in the local community.

Juwi Renewable Energies, which built the large solar farm at Croft, hopes to erect a new farm to the south of Irby capable of generating enough power for 6,000 homes.

To put this into perspective, the existing solar farm in Croft is capable of generating enough power for 1,600 homes.

The area of solar panels is expected to cover 35.4 hectares, and the site itself would follow the Wold Drain from south of Manor Farm for around a kilometre, finishing to the north-west of The Laurels on Wainfleet Road.

The scale of the project, which protest group Solar Free Irby argues will dwarf the size of the sleepy village, has sparked anger from some in the community.

A public meeting held by Solar Free Irby recently was said to be “well attended”.

“Currently the largest solar farm in the UK is in Leicestershire, on a disused airfield, and is 120 acres. The developments planned for Irby - a district of 80 households - is 187 acres. This represents almost a fifth of the total land in Irby,” said Solar Free Irby’s Kaye Rogers.

“The scale of this story is increasing. As we read and research more, it is clear that this is no longer an issue about Irby hosting the largest UK solar panel site in the the UK but is a newsworthy issue across Lincolnshire.

“Two years ago there were no large scale solar farms in Lincolnshire. Today there are 120 and a further 229 are either in the process of planning applications or currently being built,” they claimed.

East Lindsey District Council planners recently approved environmental impact assessment recommendations that the site be screened from view to a height of three metres.

They argued that the low height of the panels, coupled with vegetation screening, would minimise the impact.

Planning Team leader Chris Panton said: “The proposed development is not of more than local significance in terms of its size.

“It involves no unusual use of natural resources and will produce no significant waste or pollution beyond that which is normally anticipated for developments of this nature.

“The proposal is also unlikely to be of significant nuisance through noise or visual glare and would not result in cumulative development which would be of more than local significance,” they added.

Juwi has insisted that the development will be “completely screened from all sensitive views”.

A spokesperson for the firm said: “Up to a third of the UK’s generation capacity will be lost by 2015 as aging coal and nuclear power stations are shut down. We urgently need new electricity generation to keep the lights on.

“These solar PV projects will generate clean power equal to the demand of over 6000 homes without emitting CO2 and they will be completely screened from all sensitive views. The bottom line is people will not see these developments.

“There are considerable benefits from the schemes including a generous community benefits package offered to the local community.

“We have listened very carefully to local people and will continue to listen to further improve our proposals,” they added.