Solar farm more than seven times the size of Fosse Park set for Leicestershire border

A field is pictured beyond a hedgerow, with more fields in the distance and a water tower.
-Credit: (Image: Google)

A solar farm more than seven times the size of Fosse Park could soon be in the works for fields on the Leicestershire border. Initial details about the scheme have been submitted to Melton Borough Council on behalf of RWE Renewables in order to find out if extra environmental assessments need to be carried out before a planning application is finally submitted.

The 270-acres of land earmarked for the solar farm is currently used for agricultural purposes and is part of Stygate Farm, between Pickwell, Somerby and Whissendine in neighbouring Rutland. It is 3.5km from Burrough Hill Country Park – a popular spot for visitors, with its iron age hill fort and stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

The farm would be split across two sites, with the largest being almost 198 acres, and the smaller chunk being almost 73 acres. The land is mainly in Melton borough, but as some parts of it extend into Rutland, planning applications will be submitted to both Melton Borough Council and to Rutland County Council.

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A report submitted to the planning officer by design consultancy firm Stantec on behalf of the application reads: “The site is not covered by any landscape designations but does contain mature native trees, hedgerows; a pond; and a tributary of the Whissendine Brook.”

The land is part of the High Leicestershire Hills Landscape Character Area, which according to the report is ‘characterised by rolling hills and pronounced escarpment; well-preserved sporting estates; historic features, green lanes and parkland; and unimproved grassland’. The report reveals the soil is classified as grade 3, which is considered ‘good’ to ‘moderate’ for agricultural purposes.

A landscape report commissioned by the applicant says the farm would 'alter the character of the landscape and scenic quality from dwellings and users of Stygate Lane', but says widespread effects on the landscape would be limited by the 'surrounding landform and intervening vegetation'. It suggests planting more trees to 'further soften views from neighbouring residences'.

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