Is renewable energy a good thing? Yes. undoubtedly. We need more of it, but to generate enough electricity with PV (Solar Panels) vast areas are required. Typical schemes are 50 to 100 acres. these are too big for the roofs of any buildings, and there is simply no such thing as brownfield land big enough to be re-used. If Solar Farms are to be used as a source of renewable energy then they will cover large areas of land, usually green field space.
We are currently aware of one set of proposals which is adjacent to, but not on the proposed ‘Land East Of Horndean’ site. The farmland is Grade 4 – About the lowest quality possible, but has been used in the past for grazing, and undoubtedly has its own habitat.
For me the size of the proposed scheme came as a surprise, but to generate enough power for perhaps 5,000 homes everything is proportional. The location is far less sensitive than the solar farm in Lovedean, and we are told the ground below will still sustain much of the existing habitats for the current biodiversity.
In the last few weeks consultation have been held in Rowlands Castle and Horndean, but were not very well advertised. I found out the morning of the Horndean consultation, but instead of finding a large corporate machine who were looking to do the minimum possible consultation, met the proposers, who are local businessmen doing this for the first time. They are very happy to keep the consultation open for any comments online, and with their permission I am enclosing images of their plans here.
For me the balance of loss of farmland and visual impact are a close call against the environmental benefit of renewable energy, but tipped just in favor because the visibility of the site from the motorway and surrounding roads will be minimal. When the plans are submitted to EHDC there will be a formal opportunity to comment, but in the meantime please pass any feedback to them on their website (link above). The ward Councillor is Cllr Marge Harvey in Rowlands Castle.