PLANS for a massive solar farm on the outskirts of Stratford have been greeted with horror.
Despite strong objections, Stratford District Council Planning Committee (West) is set to grant permission on Wednesday (June 18) for 17,600 ground mounted solar panels – each measuring a metre wide by and over 1.5 metres long – on green belt land at Burton Farm.
Concern has been voiced the site – roughly the size of 17 football pitches – would be an eyesore as it would be the first thing visitors saw when arriving by train.
And there is also concern the farm would be clearly seen from The Ridgeway which is used by tourist buses visiting Mary Arden’s Farm.
District councillor Peter Moorse said: “This is a large site, in the green belt, very close to Stratford.
“The solar farm would be sited immediately adjacent to the railway line into Stratford, a line used by many thousands of tourists each year and which carries the heavily promoted ‘Shakespeare Line’, between Birmingham and Stratford. This includes regular steam drawn trains in the summer.
“The railway line at this point is on an embankment, so the whole of the solar farm would be visible from the railway. I do not consider it appropriate that one of the main sights for visitors as they approach this historic market town would be a solar farm.”
The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England, Stratford Town Council, and district ward councillor Robert Vaudry have all spoken out against the proposal.
Coun Vaudry said: “I do not accept the “production of Green Energy” qualifies for being a “very special circumstance” for building on the Green Belt.
“If this was being built on a green field site, despite arguments about location etc, I would have supported it – but I do believe that if we are to carry out development on the green belt it has to be only under very special circumstances. This is not.”
JBM Solutions, which has put in the application, argue the benefits of renewable energy outweigh green belt concerns, and say the visual impact on the surrounding area would be limited.
The farm – which would also include a control room and a substation, underground cabling, security fencing, CCTV cameras, and an internal access road – would generate enough electricity to supply nearly 1,000 homes for a year.
* PLANS have also emerged for an even bigger solar park off Fosse Way near Moreton Morrell.
Green Energy UK is looking at a site the size of around 53 football pitches and has been consulting with nearby residents.
The company said it would be taking comments on board and reviewing its proposals before applying for planning permission.