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SOLAR-POWER PLANS: ‘Stick a few windmills up there’ – Leeds community split

SOLAR-POWER PLANS: ‘Stick a few windmills up there’ – Leeds community split

Image of solar panels

Plans to build a solar energy park on the outskirts of Leeds have divided the opinions of neighbours.

Energy firm Banks Renewables has submitted a planning application to build a solar energy power facility near Kippax which, the firm claims, will be able to produce enough energy to power 12,000 family homes.

The scheme would include solar panels covering an area of around 50 hectares of south-facing land between Kippax and Allerton Bywater,
around three miles from the Hook Moor wind farm which Banks Renewables
also operates.

The scheme has the backing of Allerton Bywater Parish Council, whose vice chairman, Coun Ken Asprey, said: “It’s up to all of us to do what we can to reduce the impact of global warming and making greater use of renewable energy is one way in which we can address this.

“The Barnsdale scheme clearly tallies with national green energy policies and would be located in a secluded position which would have little impact on the local landscape.

However, the scheme has received dozens of letters of objection from neighbours who worry about the impact it could have on the area.

One nearby resident wrote a letter which called into question the sustainability of the plans, while also claiming that local people were not being consulted efficiently, and that the screening of the site from nearby houses would be inadequate.

The letter added: “Overall, we are disappointed by Banks approach to ourselves and our local neighbours. We have received no consultation as close neighbours, and we believe no consideration in these plans reflects benefiting and adding true value to our local community.

“We deem the £20,000 clause for the local community to be a pittance from what will be commercially generated, and for compensation for the harm and disruption this will bring to our local area.

“In the current state, we are unhappy with the proposal and we cannot support the development.”

Another read: “I’m all for green energy but I’m sure there are more suitable sites away from where people live and pass regularly, I think it will be an isor (sic) on the landscape completely ruining the beautiful countryside leading upto Kippax, we are surrounded by open fields and woods and that’s how it should stay, use brown sites or areas away from built up areas for these farms, it will have a massive affect on the surrounding area if allowed.”

Although not as great in number as the objections, the plans also had letters of support.

One letter read: “Much preferable to other energy producing options such as fracking! Good for our future, good for the environment and the land will be able to be returned to arable use after the period of solar generation ends.

“Unless a better option is around when that time comes! Stick a few windmills up there as well as long as they do not shade out the panels.”

Another, which appeared to have been submitted word-for-word by several people, stated: “Solar power is good for our environmentand (sic) will provide the average power needs of around 12,000 homes every year.”

Lewis Stokes, community relations manager at The Banks Group, says: “Our Barnsdale proposals have drawn a positive response from a wide range of local residents and stakeholders, and we’re very grateful that Allerton
Bywater Parish Council has also given its backing to our plans.

“We hope Leeds City Council’s planning committee will recognise the many environmental, ecological and community benefits that the Barnsdale scheme will deliver and will be minded to support our vision for this important project.”

The plans are expected to be decided at a plans panel meeting in the coming months.

To see more about the proposals visit https://publicaccess.leeds.gov.uk/online-applications/ and enter 20/07999 in the planning search bar.

Words: Richard Beecham, Local Democracy Reporter

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