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Saturday, 01 November 2014

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Plans for two more West Cumbrian solar parks

Plans for two huge solar power parks near Aspatria have been revealed.

Livos Energy Limited wants to create a 60-acre development at a site south of the A596 at Prospect and a 100-acre park on land at Pasture Farm, between Westnewton and Aspatria.

The company said that the panels would be mounted 9ft from the ground pointed in a southerly direction and would last about 25 years.

It has asked Allerdale council for screening opinions about both proposals to check any significant effects before it submits formal applications.

There are already solar panel plans in the pipeline for sites at Bothel, Moota, Silloth and Abbeytown.

They each include banks of solar panels running across large areas. The proposals for Bothel, at 72-acres, are the equivalent size of 40 football pitches.

Both Livos Energy Limited proposals have already attracted objections.

Alan Keighley, co-ordinator for the Westnewton Action Group, said: “We have now reached the eighth application for a major solar project in Allerdale, bringing the total area of agricultural land covered by solar panels to around 420 acres.

“They don’t stand up to the same height as wind farms but they cover a huge area.

“There’s plenty of room for solar panels on roofs and there’s quite a few farms near here who have covered their roofs in them.

“But it’s ridiculous to consider solar farms in this part of the world when we are already overrun. We will be putting in a full objection.”

A statement submitted to Allerdale council by Livos Energy Limited said the sites were not located in or adjacent to ‘sensitive areas’ and would have very limited impact.

But Mr Keighley said: “While we accept the sites may not be classified as sensitive, they are part of the local human environment, so why should it make them any less valuable or important?”

The developments would be removed after their projected 25-year lifespan.

Have your say

It is disappointing to see people objecting to proposals before they have had the chance to see the detail and fully understand the nature of a solar development.

As a committed conservationist, I would point out that there are huge potential benefits to be derived from the development of solar farms. Not only do they provide much needed construction opportunities and jobs for local firms but, in many cases, they also increase the biodiversity of the sites on which they are located.

Many farms consist of biologically 'sterile' ground which has been improved to the detriment of wildlife. Careful management of solar sites offers excellent potential to increase biodiversity through wildflower seed mix planting, low intensity grazing, enhancement planting of hedgerows and field margins. I would urge people to view the excellent new informed guide from BRE on 'Biodiversity Guidance for Solar Developments'.

In relation to the scale of possible developments, it is certainly true that they are generally quite large, but at only 3m in height and located on flat land , their visibility will be quite minimal. If the solar sites are located on hilly sites where the visibility is greater, then that is a different matter.

I would urge people to seek to understand the nature of the development before automatically objecting. As a society, we need power and lots of it to fuel our ever power-hungry lifestyles. There is no perfect solution, however, solar power is completely renewable and sustainable and is a small price to pay for lighting your home, watching your TV or switching on your IPad.

Posted by Ian Fields on 12 May 2014 at 12:37

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