Plans for a 72,000 solar panel farm at Berkswell

13/2/14    solar farm''Newlands Solar Farm construction off Newgate Lane, Fareham.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (14422-6)
13/2/14 solar farm''Newlands Solar Farm construction off Newgate Lane, Fareham.''Picture: Paul Jacobs (14422-6)

Plans for over 72,000 solar panels outside Kenilworth have been unveiled in what has already been branded as ‘unwanted’ by villagers.

Developer Green Energy UK has put forward plans for an 18 megawatt site at Nailcote Farm, just off Cromwell Lane.

The proposed site would span around 84 acres of undeveloped land from Balsall Common towards Berskwell.

The plans were unveiled to residents for the first time on Friday when the first public information event was help.

A spokeswoman from GE-UK explained that the farm was ‘medium sized’ and that consultations will continue to find the best way forward.

“We held an initial public consultation on Friday to which we had some interest, but no plans are fixed and it is all completely up for negotiation,” she told the KWN.

“We will listen to all residents and we welcome local information which will help us move forward.

“People who live nearby know this area better than anyone and their knowledge is important to us.”

She said there may be up to three consultations depending on how things run from here and that everyone should get involved to have a say.

But despite still being in “very early stages”, the ambitious plan has already caused upset in communities across the area who fear for the loss of their open countryside and for the disruption it could cause as far back as Kenilworth.

Some turned out on Friday to voice their upset.

There has also been ill-feeling mooted as parish councils were not officially notified of the scheme before this point, and villagers sharing views of the “unwanted development” at Friday’s meeting.

Graham Lock, chairman of Berkswell Parish Council said: “We have yet to consider this proposal at a formal meeting, however any new development within the greenbelt requires the proposer to demonstrate an exceptional need for such a scheme.

“I, along with attending councillors and residents, saw and heard nothing at the recent exhibition which demonstrated an exceptional need for the chosen location within the protected Meriden Gap greenbelt”

Balsall Common’s parish council was also notified this week and is expected to discuss the matter at its next monthly meeting.

David Skinner, Coventry City councillor, lives in Cromwell Lane which would lie on the edge of the already contentious energy farm.

He said as many houses along the lane will have gardens facing the site, it will likely be the most affected street and all residents should ensure they are involved from here on in.

“I am very surprised that the parish council was not notified of this until the very last minute,” he said.

The development would run from Cromwell Lane and Hodgetts Lane and it is understood electrical cables underground will feed into the existing sub station there.

As the site covers the source of Canley Brook, worry has been raised that the plan will have “far reaching implications” of drainage and water for residents in Kenilworth.

The company currently has a 4KW site under construction in Bishop’s Tachbrook. Farms have a 25-year life span, after which land would revert to its original use.