Proposed site for Cranfield Road Solar Farm

Protest group is preparing to fight proposed 75 hectare solar farm

Members of the West End Solar Farm Action Group say they will fight the proposal to build a 75 hectare (185 acre) solar farm on agricultural land at next to the small hamlet of West End Stagsden, Bedfordshire.

Renewable Connections is proposing a renewable energy scheme on land between West End Stagsden and Astwood. It said the Cranfield Road Solar Farm will have a generating capacity of up to 45 megawatts. The proposed site lies within Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes.

In a joint statement, the West End Solar Farm Action Group said they felt strongly against the proposal because it was on Grade 2 arable land (currently farmed for wheat production) and that the equipment and security measures would destroy an area of natural beauty enjoyed by walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Adding that the damage to this “productive area of natural beauty” would outweigh any benefit from building the solar farm.

The Action Group said that with Brexit and other pressures, the focus should be on protecting the food production sector and to safeguard farming assets to support domestic production.

It added that the Grade 2 arable land at West End, currently farmed for wheat production, is not the right location for a solar farm and such sites should be built on brownfield sites.

The Group’s spokesperson said that it is not against the principle of renewable energy, just that this it isn’t a suitable location for a solar farm.

A spokesperson for Renewable Connections said that its site selection process is extensive, with the first requirement being available grid capacity at a viable cost. It was advised by the local distribution network operator that there was capacity on the 132kv line that runs near to Kempston West End.

They said that were no brownfield sites of the necessary size (75ha) within the required radius. The company believes that the chosen site is the the best available, outside any environmental or landscape designations and with landscape characteristics that best absorb a project of this nature.

The spokesperson said the proposed site is a small part of the landowners’ landholding and by diversifying their land use, the solar scheme will enable the owners to continue to invest in their agricultural operations locally.

They added that it is important to note that the generation of renewable energy locally is a key requirement to meet local authority targets for renewable generation and, contribute to the UK’s legally binding decarbonisation targets.

The West End Solar Farm Action Group has started a petition to help to evidence the strength of feeling against the solar farm.

The current public consultation on the proposal runs until 17:00 4 September 2020. Details on how you can send your views to Renewable Connections can be found here:

 

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