A planned solar farm the size of 900 football pitches in the Yorkshire countryside will have a “dramatic” impact on nearby villages, a councillor has warned.
Cllr Mike Jordan said the cumulative impact of several major projects linked to Drax Power Station needed to be taken into account as Selby District Council’s executive committee discussed the Helios Renewable Energy project.
Enso Green Holdings D Limited wants to install thousands of panels on 758 hectares (1,873 acres) of farmland between the villages Camblesforth and Hirst Courtney in North Yorkshire.
Cllr Jordan said there were several separate energy projects being considered in and around Drax over the next few years, including a pipe for the bioenergy with carbon capture project, a cable transferring wind power from a farm in Scotland and a separate solar farm plan in Camblesforth with a connection to Drax.
He said: “There are seven potential projects all within the next two or three years and the cumulative impact of all those vehicles running around, delivering solar panels and digging up land for cables is going to have quite a dramatic impact on the three villages.”
A decision on the Helios project won’t be taken by local councillors as it is classed a major infrastructure project, with the plans due to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate in 2023.
Coun Jordan added: “If this goes ahead, one house will be destroyed – how would you like your house to receive that letter?
“There’s another cable to run because we’ve got an approved solar farm above Camblesforth. So actually, Camblesforth itself will be completely surrounded by solar farms when this is done – if they go ahead.”
Campaigners fighting the Helios plans have said they don’t see the sense of taking more than 1,800 acres of “very good, productive” farmland out of agricultural use.
Selby’s head of planning Martin Grainger said solar panels could be “quite lucrative in terms of security income for farmers”.
The council was doing a piece of work pulling together all the applications around the Drax area in order to get a better sense of the cumulative impact, Mr Grainger added.
Council leader Cllr Mark Crane said the size of the solar farm was “mind blowing”.
He added: “We clearly are wanting to go home of an evening and put the light switch on – so we do need solar power, as well as wind power and other items that make up our current energy supply.
“My basic desire is I want to support it because we want clean energy in this country. However, it is the loss of very significant arable lands, some of which is good quality and some would be mixed quality, for want of a better word, and it will clearly have an impact on people living nearby.”
Although Sebly will not decide on the application, the council will share its views on the project with the government.
Further consultation is expected to take place within the first half of next year and a public inquiry will be held before any decision is taken.