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Solar Power Generation at Great Wymondley

Speaker's Corner

A statement by Tim Lee, Green Party candidate for Baldock Town

Yesterday (Thu 17 Nov 2022) I spoke on behalf of the local Green Party in favour of the proposed development of a solar ‘farm’ on land to the north and east of Great Wymondley, Hertfordshire. I share many of the local concerns but believe that this development is essential to ensure we transition to a zero-carbon future. After lengthy discussion, with multiple concerns raised, and two votes, the proposal was approved.

Climate change is bringing increasingly greater challenges that are going to affect us all. But no one in Hertfordshire will lose their home in the way that the 1031 people of Fairbourne, Wales, will within the 40-year life of the solar farm.

Of course, the proposed solar farm could do better, much better, especially in its approach to biodiversity. The plan appears strongly financial, and as though the developer would avoid having to do anything for the local environment if they did not have to.

I would like to see guarantees to ensure steadily improving biodiversity and soil quality. There’s an opportunity to use the facility as a location to reintroduce some of the wildlife that has become extinct in Hertfordshire, such as the Nightingale. This will also ensure that when it returns to agricultural use the yields will be higher. For example:

  • Follow the recommendations of Hertfordshire Ecology:
    • Carry out ecological base line survey (in each season).
    • Monitor changes throughout life.
  • Any biological control to be carried out using natural means not chemical.
  • Regenerative control of livestock, meaning being moved daily in tight groups.
  • Minimise fencing. The current proposal at 4m high prompted reasonabe objections; they appear excessive.  Fences destroy nature - laid hedges should be used where ever possible; this could be around most of the site. Where fences are installed, ensure hedgehog access at least every 2m.
  • Like any decent guarantee compensation should be payable for failure, set rather higher than the cost of doing the right thing.

There was a suggestion that the developer may consider enabling residents to benefit from the local generation of electricity in the future. The Green Party strongly supports local developments benefiting local communities. Oddly there appears to be no legal framework presently available to ensure this can happen – there’s a reason to #VoteGreen!