Steve Barclay MP has spoken out in parliament in support of a campaign to halt plans for a giant solar panel and wind power development in the Fens.
Intervening in a debate tabled by neighbouring MP, Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson, Mr Barclay underlined the importance of local residents having their say on the plans to convert 900 acres of grade 1 and 2 farmland into an energy park hosting 500,000 glass panels. The development would see arable farmland on the proposed site converted into one of the largest solar power farms in Europe.
Mr Barclay highlighted the key objections to the £280 mln project such as visual impact on surrounding countryside, food security issues and concerns with the lack of transparency in the planning process.
Mr Barclay said: “The plan to build a giant solar panel farm on prime agricultural land in the Fens around Peterborough adjacent to my constituency – large enough to cover 700 football pitches- is clearly concerning for local residents.
“I am glad to be supporting Stewart Jackson’s efforts to have this planned development reviewed as it is of vital importance that plans for green power generation give proper weighting to environmental concerns such as landscape and visual impact as well as considering the fact that these plans could take a huge toll on the budget for other services provided by Peterborough City.
“Having recently supported local campaign groups FenRATs in their successful campaign to oppose plans for a wind farm in Fenland, I know first-hand how strongly local people feel about big developers stepping in to turn much loved rural agricultural areas into electricity generation sites. I am deeply unconvinced that this scheme represents value for money for the taxpayer, which is an acute issue at a time of rising energy bills.
“Council plans to generate renewable energy should always be balanced with the need to use brownfield sites rather than land that is key to food security and local businesses.”
The National Farmers Union has also consistently opposed plans to develop the 900-acre site which is currently used to cultivate arable, sugar beet and other crops vital to the local economy.