Nailstone Parish Council

Serving the people of Nailstone

Church

Clerk: Nicola Land
8 River Sence Way
Hugglescote, Leicestershire
LE67 2DB

Tel: 07855 565936

Planning application

Parish objection to application

Nailstone Parish Council Comments to Solar Farm

The Stone Hollow Solar farm was introduced to the parish council through several consultation meetings presented by Robin Johnson the project manager from JBM Solar projects 26 Ltd. It was clear from the outset that the size, scale and harm created by the proposal were the greatest concerns. Whilst Mr. Johnson attempted to discuss the proposed benefits created by the enriched / supplementary ecology and 3m screening of the solar panels, the community and the council remained skeptical of the balance. There were conversations regarding a community benefit in the form of free solar panels for the public buildings however Nailstone has none therefore the initial offer was unviable.

Once the validated scheme was uploaded to the planning portal, the parish council were not formally invited to comment. Further more the application was lodged under a different name and under Barlestone address. This was confusing considering 75% of the proposal was within Nailstone parish.

As details of the scheme spread through word of mouth and social media the Parish council issued a leaflet to all residents inviting them to vote via a ballet and join a discussion at the next Parish council meeting . The average public attendance at the Nailstone Parish council meetings varies between 5 – 10 people depending on topics, however there were just under 90 people in the meeting ready to discuss this proposal from which over 80% voted against.

The outlines of the planning process ad scheme were presented in order to raise awareness and from this discussion arose. We had invited Mr. Johnson from JBM to respond to questions relative to the application. There were many points raised during the meeting and whilst Mr. Johnson attempted to field these the general undertone swung the balance towards harm and objection.

There were many concerns including:

  • Size and scale of the scheme being out of character to a village regarded as a Hamlett.
  • Noise pollution omitted during construction and in operation for the 40 years
  • Questions over the authenticity of the soil samples and testing
  • Harm to the existing ecology
  • Harm to existing long reaching views, landscapes and impact on historic land marks
  • The ethics of the 49.9MW for 50MW these are considered Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects, for which a Development Consent Order must be sought from the Secretary of State.
  • Loss of valuable agricultural land given the shortfall in crops and the UKs sustainable target
  • The lack of proof of community sums being awarded
  • The ethics of JBL and the multiple special purpose vehicle companies they operate in excess of 50
  • Management of the land being offered to the farmer, therefore they would receive income from rent, arable and managing, the lack of independent audit and accountability
  • The sustainability story / manufacture and transportation of the panels
  • Questions regarding the need for two solar farms in Nailstone

The conclusions of the public majority was for the Parish to object to the scheme and the reasons are as follows:

  • The size and scale of the proposal is disproportionate and demonstrative to Hamlett of Nailstone
  • The soil samples suggest the land classification of 3b, however there is demonstratable proof that the land has supported strong harvests for decades. Other local farmers and landowners attending the meeting also disputed the validity of the records. It is felt that the lack of attention and investment from agronomists could have improved soil quality and return the land to good standing.
  • The proposal shows a complete lack of attention to important views, not simply of Historically important buildings or monuments but important landscapes and vistas. Under DM4 there is little or no consideration for the safeguarding of countryside and settlement separation.
  • Under DM10 for visual impact, the size, scale and the mitigation of impacts of the solar panels are placebo and take no consideration for the topography of the site. Whilst the LVIA suggests the views are of little value, the vistas are not verified, and vantage points have been purposefully discounted. The LVIA shows little consideration for the values the village attribute to the views and discredits the content prepared by RPS.
  • There are number of historical assets protected by Historic England such as Elm Farm, Manor House and All Saints Church which have been enjoyed through the lens of the agricultural landscape, however this proposal will significantly harm the assets through urbanization and paraphernalia. The heritage report identifies these buildings and announces them as important, yet offsets this by an assumed and ambiguous benefit argument. The village have not received and are unable to establish any benefits from the development, hence there is an absence of balance.
  • The scheme is contrary to the proposed local plan for Rural Hamlets, where limited growth and appropriate to settlement boundaries. The scheme is outside of the village boundaries and settlement and shows no consideration for the conservation status of the village.
  • The proposed solar farm will compromise the provision for public open space enjoyed by the school and the community DM25 and DM8. The village already suffers from poor POS and therefore the network of fields and footpaths provide these necessary connections.
  • The proposal is contrary to DM2 as it shows lack of consideration to the landscape, visual and noise omitted from inverters and is also contrary to DM11 and DM12
  • The reference to existing solar farms within the LVIA shows a total of 6 which are collectively just over half the size of Stone Hollow at 49.9MW. This demonstrates the disproportionate size of this scheme in comparison to previously approved. What is the justification for a site that is in the top 5 in size for the country sandwiched between two rural villages. We suggest the site has been poorly selected.
  • The proposed new site access and egress points to the site will compromise the safety of emerging traffic onto a busy road, conditioned upon safety audits.
  • Solar farms according to design principles and best practice are better suited to flat ground where screening can be achieved causing low harm to visual impact and landscape character. This scheme is void from consideration for these key design decisions. The scheme sits within a valley that exaggerates the scope of views, the attempts at screening only block long reaching views in attempt to disguise the array of panels and steel frames. The design is focused on hiding the harmful views of panels and not the protection of important landscape views.
  • As the land offers considerable free access through public footpaths the proposer has attempted to enrich this experience to balance harm. However the proposal is compromised by presence of new security fencing, CCTV and hard standing. The once natural undulating footways are now corridors of compounds intruded by security surveillance and monitoring.
  • These fields enjoy rich ecology, birds and nesting, insects for the crops and natural meadows, the new scheme is not progressive but regressive.
  • Renewable energy is essential for our sustainability, however the locations of these solar farms needs greater care and this scheme will cause harm to the community and value of our homes.
  • Greater care should be taken on site selection and measurement of the impact. By simply promoting the neg gain calculations to demonstrate benefit is not appropriate to measure in this instance.
  • Archaeology, based upon the historical records and land a full Archaeology field trench and WSI should be completed. There is also evidence of human burial on the site which need to be protected.
  • A landscape and ecological management plan has not been provided. I recommend that it is provided prior to determination in order that it can be checked against the net-gain calculations. We support of the county ecologist perspective.
  • A CEMP has not been produced and this is required to address the future management and protection of plants and species.
  • The loss of 19 Skylark breeding territories is the most significant loss, which cannot be compensated for within the site.
  • LVIA – the development fails to achieve Spatial Objective 9: Identity, Distinctiveness and Quality of Design is:

"To ensure development contributes to the local distinctiveness of the borough and enhances both settlement identity and the environment through the quality of sustainable design. Design and other measures will be used to develop strong community identities and neighbourhood pride."

In the draft local plan Nailstone has been identified as a rural hamlett due its size, infrastructure, local amenities and isolation.

"4.33 Rural Hamlets form the lowest tier in the Hierarchy. Hamlets have limited or no services and are the least sustainable settlements in the borough. Residents of Rural Hamlets normally rely on other larger, more sustainable settlements to provide services and facilities to meet their needs. Growth will be more limited within Rural Hamlets. "

Furthermore the document notes that by definition Rural Hamlets are not considered as sustainable locations for growth and should be managed through policy rather than specific land allocations.

"The Local Plan does not specifically allocate land for housing in Rural Hamlets as these are generally not considered as sustainable locations for further planned growth during the Plan period. Notwithstanding this limited growth may be appropriate in the plan period to meet specific identified needs which will be managed through policies of the Local Plan rather than specific land allocations."

Whilst housing is a different and more permanent form of development, the implications of a amenity land and development change for 40 years constitutes to several generational lifetimes, therefore more permanent change than a temporary structure.

Nailstone is by definition a small hamlet that is steeped in farming history, surrounded by fertile farm land that has successfully supported multiple generations for hundreds of years. We are one of the most fortunate villages in so far as we thrive on multiple public footways and boasting signature long distant walks heavily promoted and exercised by passing tourists. These footpaths provide a labyrinth of corridors through these changing landscapes, far reaching views from Nailstone up and down the valley. Creating picturesque sun sets and sun rises, views constantly enjoyed by the people of Nailstone either walking with friends, family and daily exercising with the dogs.. The village is also has a very limited amount of public open space and therefore the public footpaths and open views are the centre of well being and community interaction.

The public are wiling to engage with JBM regarding a community sum, however under the current planning proposal the scheme is unreasonable to support and compromise.

In conclusion

The proposal has been received a majority objection, the scheme has been poorly sited, sized and sets challenge to defensible planning policy. Please receive this statement as a Parish Council unanimous objection.

Thank you for your consideration

Community Benefit

The parish council asked parishioners how they would like any community benefit contributions spent. The suggestions were

Community Funding
Village hall
Whole village should benefit
Hanging baskets
Weight limit camera to deter HGV traffic
Not in school - Whole village needs to be able to access funding
Church
Community Venue North Aisle of church
Village Hall on School playing field
Bulls Head
Fully funded archeology survey of the area
Community building/adaptation of existing building
Reopen pub
Traffic Calming
Part time gardener chruch meadow (not groundsman/volunteers)
Village Hall
Traffic Calming
Church Upkeep
Village Appearance, Lamp posts Entrance Signs/planters
Church divided to provide community space
Addiitonal Play equipment
Obtain fields for common land/allotments
Community Hall / Church
Reduction in Council Tax
Covid Memorial
Church
Church
Smiley Face Speed signs
Nailstone Church and Church Meadow
Residents to get reduced energy costs
Traffic Calming
Public transport links
Impove Public Footpaths to Barlestone, Osbaston, and Carlton
Church
Solar panels for School
Recreation areas for Young
Church
Church Meadow
Herb gardens, Composting, insulation and Heat pumps
Allotments
future Biodiversity projects
Church
Community Group
Develop Surrounding Habitat
Village Hall/Community Centre
Speed Camera Bagworth Road
HGV deterents