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    North Derbyshire Radio

Local News

A public inquiry will be held into plans for a huge solar farm in the beloved countryside near a North Derbyshire town

todaySeptember 27, 2022 16

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A public inquiry will be held into plans for a huge solar farm in the beloved countryside near a Derbyshire town.

KS SPV 61 Limited – a company run by Kronos Solar – is appealing for a 310-acre solar farm between Alfreton and Oakerthorpe, at Hall Farm, off Church Street, to be approved.

Amber Valley Borough Council rejected its plans in December last year following in excess of 750 objections from local residents.

Now a six-day public inquiry will be held in South Normanton from October 18-21 and November 1-2 where a Government planning inspector will make a decision on the appeal.

It will be hosted at The Post Mill Centre in Market Street, South Normanton, starting from 10am each day, with members of the public welcome to attend and give their views.

Residents may also watch the inquiry via an online stream, with access available by request and the filling out of a form.

Kronos Solar, the original applicant for the solar farm, based in Germany, was approached for comment but did not respond.

Ahead of the December planning meeting at which the plans were near-unanimously rejected, a spokesperson for the firm said: “We are disappointed the council has recommended refusal of the plans, despite declaring a climate emergency and committing to net zero by 2030.

“Coming just weeks after COP26, a scheme such as this is of national importance. We hope the benefits of the proposals, to the climate emergency, our environment, and our climate, will be recognised by councillors when they make their decision.

“However, we need to be clear about what this decision means. If these proposals do not come forward here, in these conditions, they will not come forward anywhere in the UK.

“Amber Valley Council has taken the important first step of recognising the climate change crisis, but this must be followed by action.

“If renewable energy projects receive this level of hostility right after the UK has made bold commitments on climate change, are we confident we are ready and willing to act? Or is it simply ‘greenwashing’?”

Jamie Selby, a spokesperson for the campaign group Save Alfreton Countryside, which formed to lobby against the solar farm, along with other planning applications for houses and a retirement village, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “We will be mounting a robust defence of our case against Kronos’s ill-conceived solar farm.

“Our team, advised by Peter Milner and supported by CPRE Derbyshire (the countryside charity), has spent many hours of many days and weeks preparing our submissions, so they will be as strong as possible.

“The generous support of members of the public around the area and local councils means we have been able to secure a barrister to represent us at the forthcoming inquiry, in a further boost to our case.

“We would like to thank everyone who has made donations, and to South Wingfield Parish Council and Alfreton Town Council, who have also provided valuable support and helped share the burden of the legal costs. We are tremendously grateful for the support from all concerned.

“We maintain this solar development would be of huge detriment to local residents, walkers, the children of Alfreton Park Special School, wildlife and the settings of important historic buildings such as Wingfield Manor. Instead, solar panels should be mounted on the many square miles of industrial rooftops nearby.”

Kronos’s plans for a facility capable of providing electricity for 11,500 homes – three times the number of households in Alfreton – were rejected in December.

At a borough planning meeting, councillors felt that the plans were simply too large and in the wrong place, preferring solar panels to be placed on industrial buildings and on brownfield land.

Councillors felt that the negative impact of the scheme on the landscape was too great and outweighed the benefit of the solar farm itself.

Residents, many of which are in the campaign group Save Alfreton Countryside, had backed the need for a solar farm and renewable energy generation – but felt the chosen site and scale of the proposed development were unacceptable.

County council officials and the area’s MP, Nigel Mills, also opposed the scheme due to its impact on the landscape, while supporting the need for solar farms.

If you wish to participate in the inquiry virtually, contact the borough council via planningappeals@ambervalley.gov.uk or 01773 841662.

Pictured: Fields between Alfreton and Oakerthorpe have become a hotbed for potential development “This is our last chance to save this land for the next generation”, say passionate campaigners calling for “beautiful” countryside around a Derbyshire town to be protected. Land stretching from Alfeton to Oakerthorpe in Amber Valley has become a focal point for new developments over the past couple of years. This includes current plans under consideration for 53 homes off the A615/Belper Road through Oakerthorpe; a 240-home retirement village off Wingfield Road next to Alfreton Golf Club; and a large solar farm across the fields between Oakerthorpe and Alfreton, north of Wingfield Road. Plans from Waters Homes Ltd for 37 houses were approved in August 2020 for land next to the golf club, also stemming off Wingfield Road, and are now under construction. Campaign group Save Alfreton Countryside aims to see all three of these proposed schemes rejected, declaring an early victory in one case, that of the solar farm.

Written by: NDR NEWS

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