How a group of volunteers hope to 'save' Alfreton countryside from huge solar farm plans

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jamieslack
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How a group of volunteers hope to 'save' Alfreton countryside from huge solar farm plans

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A group of dedicated volunteers are tirelessly campaigning against plans to create a huge solar farm in Alfreton.

The main application in question, submitted to Amber Valley Borough Council in December last year, is for land to the north-west of Hall Farm, on Church Street.

Save Alfreton Countryside – made up of volunteers – is campaigning against the application while researching alternative methods of generating solar energy.

We take another look at the planning application in question and find out why Save Alfreton Countryside is against the proposal.

The planning application

The planning application was submitted by Kronos Solar, who originally sought permission to build a solar farm spanning 101 hectares.

However, in May, the company amended its application to reduce the size of the proposed solar farm to 75 hectares.

If approved, the solar farm would be in place for 40 years.

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The site of the proposed solar farm

A second planning application, submitted to North East Derbyshire District Council, seeks permission to build a solar farm spanning 31.20 hectares on land near Upper Delves Farm, on Pit Lane, Shirland.

Explaining why Kronos Solar chose the sites, the company said: "Our first criteria for favouring this location is the avoidance of protected areas and land of high agricultural value.

"Other criteria include a low ecological impact, co-ordination with the development policies of the local authorities, good solar radiation, and most importantly, having a nearby option for a grid connection."

What Save Alfreton Countryside thinks about the proposal

The group believes that ground-mounted solar farms should only be conducted on brownfield sites or previously developed areas.

A spokesperson for the group, which has more than 1,500 members on Facebook, said: "We are committed to the protection of all green spaces that are valuable to local communities for agriculture, leisure, ecology and heritage reasons.

"It is our belief that large-scale ground-mounted solar farms should be discouraged on all farmland. We don’t just want to say 'no' though, we’re keen to promote commercially viable alternatives to large-scale ground-mounted solar farms.

"Our research suggest that south-facing commercial roof space in the UK could support well in excess of the solar capacity required to achieve the government’s net zero emissions target. New technology, such as lightweight solar film, would have no visual impact on the landscape, would minimise disruption to the local area during installation, and would deliver power to where it is most needed."

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John Cleary, chairman of the campaign group, added: "We absolutely understand the need for renewable energy, but this should not come at the expense of open countryside when other brownfield or previously developed sites have not been considered."

The group is also raising awareness of a third planning application, submitted by a different company, which seeks to build a solar farm on land north of Meadow Lane and south of the B6025.

What Kronos Solar said in response to the group's concerns

Kronos Solar told the Spirit they are committed to protecting and maintaining local greenspace and have promised that the impact on nearby homes and walkers can be mitigated through the use of proper screening.

A spokesperson said: "Natural hedges and well managed vegetation provide good screening and corridors for wildlife.

"The agricultural quality of the terrain can be boosted through the passive use of the land and the ecology of the site will be enhanced."

What happens next?

Decisions about both planning applications are yet to be decided.

The application for the site near Hall Farm is set to be considered by Amber Valley Borough Council’s planning board later in the year.

The application for the site close to Upper Delves Farm is listed as decision 'pending'.

You can find out more about Kronos Solar’s plans here: https://alfreton-solar-farm.co.uk/

You can find out more about Save Alfreton Countryside here: https://www.facebook.com/savealfretoncountryside



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