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Opposition mounts to Strattons Farm solar farm plans in Kingsclere near Newbury after Government urges councils to turn down proposals





Opposition is mounting against plans to build a solar farm south of Newbury that would be larger than 40 football pitches.

Last month Anglo Renewables submitted a planning application to build the 72.65 acre development on agricultural land at Strattons Farm, just off the A339 north of Kingsclere.

The land at Strattons Farm where the solar farm would be developed
The land at Strattons Farm where the solar farm would be developed

The energy company has stated that the farm—which would operate for a temporary period of 40 years—will provide clean renewable energy that will be exported to the National Grid.

According to Anglo Renewables, the proposed development would supply enough electricity to power approximately 5,791 family homes every year, displacing 5,043 tonnes of CO2 annually in the process.

Despite the development’s promise of clean, renewable energy, the solar farm plans have garnered 135 objections from nearby residents (as of Thursday, May 16).

Most objectors have taken issue with the proposed Strattons Farm site, believing that solar farms should be developed on brownfield sites rather than be built on agricultural land.

The layout of the potential solar farm, which would be located just west of the A339
The layout of the potential solar farm, which would be located just west of the A339

This is an opinion echoed by the Government, with ministers recently urging local councils not to approve planning permission for solar farms on high-quality farmland.

Speaking in Parliament on May 15, energy security secretary Claire Coutinho said: “As the Prime Minister set out this week, rising threats around the world mean we must have a renewed emphasis on our security.

“That means protecting our food security whilst also delivering the cheap energy we need.

“We are taking further steps today to make sure we can get that balance right.

Campaign group Village Solar Farm staged a protest against the solar farm proposal on May 11
Campaign group Village Solar Farm staged a protest against the solar farm proposal on May 11

“I want to see more solar on rooftops and where that’s not possible for agricultural land to be protected and for the cumulative impact on local villages to be considered where they are facing a high number of solar farm applications.

“We will make sure we reach our solar targets in a sensible way that delivers clean, cheaper energy but does not compromise our food security.”

Within its plans, Anglo Renewables states that the facility has been “designed to enable low intensity sheep to graze amongst the solar arrays”, meaning that the Strattons Farm fields should still be able to be used agriculturally if the solar farm is built.

Village Solar Farm (VSF) is a campaign group opposed to the plans, and it staged a protest on Saturday, May 11 at a Growing2gether plant sale at Ingham’s Plant Nursery to let people know about the solar farm proposal.

Anglo Renewables has stated that the facility has been “designed to enable low intensity sheep to graze amongst the solar arrays”
Anglo Renewables has stated that the facility has been “designed to enable low intensity sheep to graze amongst the solar arrays”

One of the protestors was wearing a bunny rabbit suit to illustrate the solar farm’s potential harm to native wildlife.

However, Anglo Renewables disputes that the farm would have a negative ecological impact.

It has stated that the solar farm would secure a biodiversity net gain—meaning that habitats for wildlife would be left in a measurably better state than they were before the development— and create greater opportunities for protected species and species of conservation concern.

VSF has stated that it does support the idea of solar energy, but it believes solar farms should be placed on roofs, not fields.

Campaign group Village Solar Farm staged a protest against the solar farm proposal on May 11
Campaign group Village Solar Farm staged a protest against the solar farm proposal on May 11

VSF member Sheilah Openshaw said: “Our food security is just as important as our energy security—and we can have both.”

The Strattons Farm solar farm plans were submitted to Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council on April 12.

The council aims to issue a decision by July 12, but due to the amount of objections, it is likely the fate of the proposal will be decided at a meeting of the development control committee.

The 72.65 acre development would be located on agricultural land at Strattons Farm, just off the A339 north of Kingsclere
The 72.65 acre development would be located on agricultural land at Strattons Farm, just off the A339 north of Kingsclere

The committee is responsible considering planning applications that are deemed by senior planning officers to be significant in scale, and therefore require a decision by councillors.

To view the solar farm plans, search 24/00852/FUL on the Basingstoke and Deane planning portal.



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