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Campaigners fear proposed solar panel farm may ruin John Bunyan’s ‘beautiful valley’

Planning round-up

Planning round-up

A lobby group is calling on residents living in John Bunyan’s “beautiful valley” to oppose plans for a solar panel farm.

The group, based in Pulloxhill, is running a petition against a planning application for a renewable energy site at Faldo Farm, Barton-le -CLay.

Calling itself No SLAP For Pulloxhill, the group claims the panels will ruin the views from the Bunyan Trail and the Sharpenhoe Clappers, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

SLAP spokesman Robert Beechener said: “Government guidelines say solar farms should not be sited in areas of natural beauty or high-producing food crop farmland.

“We object to the proposed development on the grounds it would have a major negative impact on the landscape and public footpaths, and cause the loss of a substantial area of productive agricultural land.”

Mr Beechener added a recent Cambridge University report warned there will be a shortage of arable land to grow food crops by 2030.

SLAP will be leafleting the residents of Pulloxhill, Barton-le-Clay andSharpenhoe urging objectors to write to Central Bedfordshire Council.

The application proposes 43,000 solar panels and associated buildings be built on approximately 15.4ha land.

It was submitted by Faldo Solar Farm Ltd, owned and developed by Solafields Ltd in partnership with a Spanish renewable energy firm.

Solarfields director Mark Candlish said 68 per cent of those who attended April’s exhibition of the plans, in Barton-le-Clay, were in favour.

He said: “The site is low-grade land and there is a power cable already going through the middle of it.

“The planning application outlines the planting of a 800m-long belt of new trees, which in seven-to-10 years would completely obscure the view of the solar panels.”

He added the plans will also increase bio-diversity with sheep grazing under the panels, bee hives, planting wild flower meadows and hedgerow and an historic footpath along the district boundary would be reinstated.

The panels are expected to generate enough electricity each year to power 3,300 typical homes. The consultation period closes on August 10. Comments should be made via www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk

 

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