Changes to plans for major solar park after only 16% of residents back it

Proposals for the Great North Road solar park near Newark
By Jamie Waller, Local Democracy Reporter

More than half of locals who commented on plans to build what would be one of Britain’s biggest solar farms want the scheme to be scrapped.

Developers have unveiled revised plans for The Great North Road solar farm on 7,000 acres near Newark.

They say the farm would generate enough energy to power 400,000 homes.

However, only 16 per cent of local residents backed the plans in the first round of public consultation. A further 27 per cent said they wanted changes before they would offering their backing.

Fifty-five per cent of locals opposed the plans.

The farm would comprise a ring of solar panels approximately four miles wide, close to the villages of Maplebeck, Ossington and North Muskham.

Developer Elements Green has now published amended plans which it hopes will make the scheme more acceptable to people living nearby.

Changes introduced following the feedback include placing fewer solar panels in certain areas, planting more trees and hedges to block views of the panels, and a relocating one substation.

However, the changes are unlikely to satisfy Newark MP Robert Jenrick (Con) who said he would be “campaigning hard to stop this solar farm and others like it”, when the plans were announced in October.

“It is a scheme of breathtaking scale. It would be a massive change to the landscape of the area, turning beautiful countryside into an industrial landscape and loses hundreds of acres of agricultural land,” he wrote on Facebook.

A spokesperson for Elements Green previously said: “Great North Road Solar Park is directly in line with the UK Government’s ‘British Energy Security Strategy’ for transitioning to renewable energy, energy independence and reduction of energy bills.

“We are keen to engage with local communities to share our early-stage proposals, giving them the opportunity to have their say, share their views and local knowledge.

“We strongly support the principle that infrastructure developments should bring benefits to the communities that host them and through our NG+ programme we’re keen to hear ideas around education, employment, energy efficiency and ecology.”

The company says the solar farm would generate 800 Megawatts every year and prevent the release of around 250,000 tonnes of CO2.

More than 550 people attended online and in-person consultation events in the first round of public consultation.

Further rounds of consultation will be carried out before the plans are officially submitted.

A solar farm of this scale would be designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, meaning it would be determined by the Secretary of State for Energy rather than Newark & Sherwood District Council.

Feedback or questions can be sent to [email protected]  or FREEPOST GNR SOLAR, or submitted by calling 0808 175 4054.

The government is aiming for the UK to become carbon net zero by 2050. It wants Britain to produce 70GW of solar power by 2035.

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