‘Shock and amazement’ at plans for solar farm in Long Itchington

Solar panels

Solar panels

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Villagers are angry over plans for a solar farm the size of around 30 football pitches on farmland in Long Itchington.

Campaigners say it will blight the landscape and could potentially harm the economy of the village, which attracts walkers and visitors to the pubs in Long Itchington.

If granted planning permission, the solar panels –up to three metres high off the ground – could be on 30 acres of land at Manor Farm, off Church Road, for up to 25 years.

Peter O’Brien said he bought his house in Church Road in 2008 off the farmer who owns the proposed site, and said he was “shocked and amazed” when he heard of the plans for the land by his home.

He said: “The fact that the house is not overlooked and in Green B elt, it was impossible to think that there would be development there in my lifetime or my children’s.”

Mr O’Brien, who lives there with his partner Wendy Hewston and two of his children, said: “It’s going to be a blot on the whole area, not just those who look onto it. The land rises up and it will be seen for miles.

“Long Itchington has seven pubs, with six relying on food sales. Clearly, there is a reliance on visitors who come here for the walks and the vistas.

“How many visitors will continue to come once they are looking at 30 acres of solar panels - will the pubs and restaurants be able to survive without such support?

“My belief is there will be a huge negative effect on the finances in the village.”

Mr O’Brien said crops have been grown on the land for years and with Great Britain only growing around 30 per cent of its food, there was a need to conserve land for food.

“This is good quality agricultural land. We should be 
saving land for producing food and siting this kind of 
development in a more suitable place.

“There are a lot more places that are more suitable. There’s the old cement works in Long Itchington with quite a lot of derelict land.”

The solar farm bid has been made by Glasgow-based TGC Renewables Ltd, which has been told by Stratford District Council that an Environmental Assessment Impact into its effect on the area will have to be prepared before the plan can go any further.

As part of the pre-application consultation process, on Monday (January 26) there will be an exhibition of the plans and a chance to talk to TGC staff.

It is from 3pm to 7pm at Long Itchington Community Centre and the parish council has encouraged villagers to take part.

Mr O’Brien, who is managing director of O’Brien Construction, groundwork and civil engineers in Cubbington, urged people to contact Long Itchington parish council to raise their concerns about the plans.

And he added: “The feeling in the village that I know of is totally against it. It will affect everybody.”

The Stop Long Itchington Solar Farm campaign has a website, is on Twitter, has a Facebook page and an on-line petition.