Sounding the alarm: new Solar Farm planning applications in the countryside

12th December 2021

Update!  We have now filed our objections with both Uttlesford and East Herts District Councils – these are available at the links immediately below. We’re deeply concerned by these two planning applications seeking to build a large-scale industrial solar farm in the rural countryside of eastern Hertfordshire and western Essex.

You can read our objections at

Pelham sub-station (land east of), Maggots End, Manuden (Uttlesford DC) – CPREHerts 2021-12-08

Pelham sub-station (land east of), Maggots End, Manuden – CPREHerts 2021-12-02

The proposed development site is a large swathe of land between Stocking Pelham, Berden and Manuden, totalling 196 acres. This is the equivalent of around 100 football fields, and is several multiples larger than the size of the small villages in the surrounding local area.

 

map showing proposed solar farm development site location
Map showing proposed solar farm development site straddling the Hertfordshire – Essex border and dwarfing the surrounding villages. Map by Jonathan Russell

 

The land is mainly productive high quality agricultural land. There are seven public rights of way in and around the site, much valued by local walkers and runners for recreation and access to nature. There are also areas of ancient woodland, rich in biodiversity.  At the far end of the site is a rookery, shown here.

Rookery in the proposed development site
Photo: Jonathan Russell

Here at CPRE Hertfordshire we believe solar energy has a role to play in mitigating climate change, but not at the expense of the countryside. We advocate for rooftop solar production, not ground-mounted solar installations such as this proposal.

Our policy on solar energy provides a balanced framework for evaluating proposed solar developments.  In keeping with this policy our concerns with this proposal include:

  • The development site is in the designated Rural Area Beyond the Green Belt, contrary to the adopted East Hertfordshire District Local Plan;
  • Productive high quality Grade 2 agricultural land would be lost to food production;
  • There would be significant harm to views and detrimental change in the character of the landscape including the public rights of way; and
  • There would be adverse effects on biodiversity such as the deer shown here.
herd of deer in the proposed development site
Photo: Jonathan Russell

 

We encourage as many local people as possible to submit comments on the proposal. The relevant planning application is on the East Herts District Council planning portal (planning application 3/21/2781/FUL) with a consultation expiry date of 23 December 2021.

Because the site crosses the boundary between Hertfordshire and Essex, the same planning application is also available for comment on the Uttlesford District Council planning portal (planning application UTT/21/3356/FUL), with a consultation expiry date of 17 December 2021.

If you share our concerns, please join us and help protect and promote the countryside for everyone to enjoy, today and for future generations.

Lush green crops with woodland in the distance and a blue sky overhead
A portion of the proposed Pelham Spring / Battles Wood Solar Farm development site Jonathan Russell