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Wandon End Solar: another industrial scale solar farm in our countryside?

17th June 2022

We’ve become aware of another industrial scale solar farm proposal, this time at Wandon End and Tea Green in North Hertfordshire District.

“Wandon End Solar” is proposed for a very large site of approximately 85 hectares in the Green Belt. The site is situated between Wandon End, Tea Green, Darley and Breachwood Green. Contrary to the developer’s assertions, this area is in the Green Belt which is statutory protected land, and under national planning policy this is intended to remain permanently open.

The site of the proposed solar farm is also in an area that is under consideration for inclusion in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, due to the special character of the landscape, topography and wildlife habitats.

Currently this area is in productive agricultural use, which is important in the context of rising food prices and the need to boost UK domestic food production and food security.

A portion of the proposed solar farm site, in productive agricultural use. Photo August 2018

The site is undulating, open land, crossed by at least six Public Rights of Way. These are an important and much used recreational amenity for nearby residents in the surrounding rural hamlets and villages.

In fact, one of our own CPRE Hertfordshire self-guided walks, Breachwood Green and Countryside east of Luton, goes through the middle of the proposed development site. We chose our route several years ago, specifically because of the exceptionally scenic landscape with its beautiful long views.

Long view from near Wandon End looking into the proposed solar farm site. Photo August 2018

The industrial nature of the solar panels and associated infrastructure including inverters / transformers, electrical substations, fencing, and CCTV security cameras would cause harm to this landscape and change the nature of the countryside for more than a generation.

Here at CPRE Hertfordshire we believe solar has a role to play in the UK’s energy mix. But the solar energy trade association, Solar Energy UK, estimates there are over 617,000 acres of suitable, south-facing commercial rooftops currently available for solar panels. So we want to see solar panels on all suitable rooftops before industrial-scale solar farms are built on greenfield sites in the countryside.

What to do about this proposal?

The Wandon End Solar proposal is at the pre planning application stage.  The developer is running a public consultation until 30 June 2022 to gather local comments. The developer’s website has some outline information and a feedback form. We encourage local people to submit their views, particularly using the freeform comments section of the form.

To help formulate your comments, you may wish to review our guidance for local communities and our full policy statement on solar energy installations in the countryside. We have also collaborated with colleagues in CPRE Essex and several other local bodies to produce a helpful booklet, The Problem with Solar Farms – factors to consider in determining planning applications.

 

lovely long view of open fields, woodlands and blue sky
View from Darley Wood looking into part of the site of the proposed solar farm, August 2018 Elizabeth Hamilton
a dark sky at night with hundreds of stars visible in the milky way overhead