Bourne solar farm plans go before planning councillors on Tuesday

PLANS for Bourne’s £12m solar farm to create renewable energy could be given the green light next week.

The planning application by Lark Energy, part of the Larkfleet Group based in the town, has been recommended for approval by South Kesteven District Council planning officers.

District councillors will discuss the proposal for Limes Farm, Spalding Road, at their next development control committee meeting on Tuesday and decide whether to grant approval or not.

Lark Energy’s land planning manager from Lark Energy Jo Wall is really pleased and said: “We believe this is a really important scheme which makes good use of the land for a dual use – the production of energy and of food.

“We’re obviously delighted to have officer approval for the scheme, but we also understand that this is only a part of the planning process.”

The firm submitted its planning application to the district council in February to install a series of solar panels on the 35-acre site.

The ground-mounted photovoltaic panels, which harness the power of daylight to produce electricity, would generate power which would feed into the National Grid.

The field would remain grassed while the panels would be south facing, no more than 2m in height and tilted towards the sun.

In the report to the committee it states that the proposal would be detrimental to the character of the landscape but for the most part any impacts can be mitigated against.

It added: “There is also likely to be less intensive use of the grade 2 agricultural land. However, renewable energy would be created as well as benefits to the environment through buffer strips around the periphery of the site.”

Planning officials have recommended the development for approval subject to conditions including that a timetable of works to be carried out needs to be submitted to the district council to make sure there’s no impact on badgers in the area.

Officers have also suggested that any clearance on site is not undertaken between March and August so that breeding birds are not affected either.

The company was hoping to provide power under the Government’s Feed in Tariff, which is open to homeowners and businesses like Lark Energy who can be paid for producing renewable energy - but this is out for review.

The proposals out for consultation aim to rebalance the subsidy scheme, paid for through a levy on customer bills rather than by government coffers, in an effort to prevent larger scale solar projects “soaking up” all the cash - but Lark Energy is continuing with its plans.

The Feed in Tariff scheme was introduced in April last year.