SAVE THIS AREA FROM INDUSTRIALISATION

THE 7,000 ACRES GROUP

 

The "7000 Acres Group" is a collection of concerned residents formed from over 30 villages in and around the footprint of the West Burton, Cottam and Gate Burton Solar Farm projects. These proposed Solar Farms cover an area of approximately 7 thousand acres of land around Gainsborough, stretching from Gringley in the west across to Blyton in the east, and going as far south as Torksey.  The Group have come together to raise awareness of the scope and scale of these projects and to put forward the argument that the size of the proposed developments is totally unsuitable for the area.

The residents are concerned that over 7,000 acres of land will be industrialised by the installation of three solar farms, destroying productive farmland, ruining the countryside and causing the destruction of wildlife habitat.  There will also be an impact on property prices in the areas affected.  

 

There are over thirty villages affected by these proposals:


Aisby, Blyton, Brampton, Bransby, Brattleby, Broxholme, Cammeringham, Clayworth, Corringham, Fillingham, Gate Burton, Glentworth, Gringley-on-the-Hill, Ingham, Ingleby, Kexby, Knaith, Knaith Park, Marton, Normanby-by-Stow, North Leverton, Pilham, Saxilby, South Leverton, Springthorpe, Stow, Sturton-by-Stow, Sturton-le-Steeple, Torksey, Torksey Lock, Upton, Willingham-by-Stow 

"The three solar plant proposals are utterly inappropriate. By building on quality agricultural land, we will destroy a natural resource in the heart of England’s green and pleasant land".

Sir Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough

THE KEY ISSUES

SHEER SIZE

VISUAL IMPACT

SOURCING CONCERNS

HABITAT LOSS

TRAFFIC IMPACT

LOSS OF PRODUCTIVE LAND

LOSS OF AMENITY

SAFETY CONCERNS

INCREASED FLOOD RISK

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EQUIVALENT SIZE

3,500 FOOTBALL PITCHES

7,000

Acres

20

KILOMETRES END-TO-END

70

KILOMETRE PERIMETER

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SHEER SIZE

There are currently three proposals for industrial-scale solar farms in the area, covering over 7,000 acres of land.  This is equivalent to 3,500 football pitches and 25 times larger than the largest solar farm currently in the UK. Almost 20km from one end to the other, with a perimeter stretching over 70km.  Much of the land earmarked for development is currently used for agricultural purposes. 


The West Burton, Cottam and Gate Burton projects create an industrial-scale solar plant inappropriately designed and disproportionate in response to the need for renewable energy.

LOSS OF PRODUCTIVE LAND

We are concerned about the loss of productive farm land and believe that no large scale solar plant should be approved for development on greenfield land until the collective impact on the environment, biodiversity and food security is fully understood.

Current Government policy is clear in that developments of this nature should prioritise development on Brownfield sites and low grade land before considering development on productive farmland.

Solar panels should be erected on brownfield sites, new housing developments and all commercial buildings. Using productive agricultural land should be an absolute last resort.

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VISUAL IMPACT

The development employs solar panels mounted up to 4.5m high spread across 7,000 acres of open countryside adjacent to many local villages.  There will also be 2m high security fencing, CCTV and security lighting around the development. Additional equipment will be placed across the site in large unsightly containers.

 

Whilst efforts will be made to screen the solar panels and associated equipment, it will be very difficult to hide these developments on rolling countryside. 

Solar panels up to 4.5m high across 7,000 acres of open countryside.

LOSS OF SOCIAL AMENITY

If you enjoy walking, cycling or riding through the countryside, and experiencing the health and well-being that it brings, then imagine the impact of being surrounded by solar panels and associated equipment on public rights of way and quiet country roads. Public rights of way may be moved or closed during the construction phase, which is anticipated to take between 24 and 36 months.

Public rights of way may be moved or closed during the construction phase. 

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HABITAT LOSS AND DISRUPTION

The Developers claim they will achieve biodiversity gain but they give no details how exactly this will be achieved, other than to set aside some land for ‘mitigation’. Bio-diversity improvements can only be achieved through careful design and on-going management, with each area requiring a bespoke approach rather than a 'one-size fits all'.

The construction process will take up to 36 months during which time there will be disruption and damage to local habitats.  Deer will no longer be able to run freely as they will be faced with miles of security fencing blocking their natural routes. Faced with a reduced grazing area, the deer will cause additional damage to ancient woodland, impacting other species, as well as inflicting more concentrated damage to crops.

Natural habitats will be lost for a generation, or more.

INCREASED FLOOD RISK

 

Laying new tracks and access routes during the construction process will cause compaction of the soil and ongoing maintenance will cause further compaction to the soil which is already less aerated, reducing its ability to absorb rainwater.

The run-off characteristics of rainwater from solar panels is different to that falling straight to the ground. Generally, rainwater falls evenly over a wide area.  The run-off rainwater from solar panels would be concentrated, like rain running into the gutter of a house. When rainfall is heavy, gutters are deluged with water and overpowered. Run-off rainwater from solar panels will create channels and gullies in the soil, causing compaction and speed up the run-off from the site into nearby fields, roads, rivers and other vulnerable areas. 

The run-off rainwater from solar panels will increase flood risks.

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TRAFFIC IMPACT

The construction phase will take between 24 and 36 months.  HGVs, abnormal loads and construction traffic will pass through local villages during this period.  This will create noise, pollution, and damage to roads and verges, as well as extra risk for pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders. It is also likely to disturb the bio-diversity on more rural lanes.

Some roads will be too narrow and there will be a need for temporary, localised road widening, as well as a construction compound to transfer the abnormal size loads and HGV loads to smaller vehicles. 

Hundreds of workers will need to travel to and from the construction sites during the build phase, creating traffic, noise and pollution.

SAFETY CONCERNS

The Projects include battery storage facilities. The batteries will be lithium-based, which have a reputation for being unstable and very dangerous if they develop a fault. 

Batteries will be housed in large containers.  Faults can occur due to mechanical damage, heat, internal short circuits and poor battery management. When a fault occurs it causes a chemical reaction that does not need oxygen to burn and is therefore very difficult to put out. The only way to stop the reaction is to cool it with vast amounts of water, more than is ever likely to be available at the site.  The chemical reaction caused when the batteries fail emits large amounts of toxic gas, mainly hydrogen fluoride, after which explosive gases are given off that can cause substantial explosions. 

You can find out more about the dangers of these battery storage systems here, here and here.

The chemical reaction caused when the batteries fail emits large amounts of toxic gas, mainly hydrogen fluoride, after which explosive gases are given off that can cause substantial explosions.

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SOURCING CONCERNS

 

Many of the component parts for the Solar Farms will be sourced from other countries.  The production and transportation of these parts will add to the carbon footprint of the project, calling into question it's green credentials from the very start.

 

Labour practices and quality of products are also issues to cause concern.  You can find out more here. If UK-based manufacturing companies were considered for the projects, this would mean more investment and more jobs in this country and a reduced carbon footprint.

Much of the investment in these projects will be made offshore.  The local economy will not benefit from these developments.