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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Event sheds light on solar park plan

RESIDENTS around Bigrigg have had a chance to learn more about plans for a 30,000-panel solar park.

By Lucy Grosvenor

Just over 24 hectares of land have been earmarked for the development in the fields by Woodend Farm and Hollins Farm.

If plans go ahead the site would be a first for West Cumbria and the land would be leased from farmers for 30 years.

Paul Neary, from Neo Environmental, said: “This site has all the elements to make a solar park work; it is near a sub station so we can feed in the energy produced and the land is low quality so we aren’t using fields that could grow crops.”

Letters were sent out to some residents in the area and two public meetings were held last week, one in Egremont the other in Bigrigg.

Whilst there were concerns regarding the impact of rural views, most seemed in favour of the plans.

Ann Beasley, of Cleator, said: “This is a great idea. We need to support clean energy and I am all for the solar park.”

David Jackson, of Moor Row, said: “I think it is a good idea. If farmers aren’t getting profit out of their land then why shouldn’t they enter into projects like this?”

However, Pam Eilbeck, of Down Field Lane, said: “I was worried about the potential glare from 30,000 panels and whilst my questions have been answered I am still not happy. I have lived here for 30 years and if plans go ahead it will impact on the rural view.”

The project is being headed up by Castillium, a national company which deals in renewable energy both wind and solar.

Alistair Fell, director of Castillium, said: “I think both meetings were pretty positive. Of the returned surveys we asked residents to fill in 60 per cent were in favour, 20 undecided and 20 per cent against.

“Following on from the meeting we realised there are some residents who would be visually impacted by the park. We are now changing the layouts, moving the panels away from houses and mitigating the impact.”

If plans go ahead, fast-growing hedges and shrubs will be planted around the park to further shield the view from residents.

Sam Pollen, Copeland councillor for Egremont North, said: “I am concerned with so many people in the area not receiving letters about the development. It is still in the early stages but I think more information is needed and we need to look at the community benefits of this project.”

Mr Fell said: “I think we are doing as much as we can to engage with the area. We welcome residents views on the plans.”

If plans are granted Castillium will make a £10,000 community benefit donation.

Mr Fell added: “We believe £10,000 is a meaningful amount. We have already received suggestions on how it should be spent.”

Have your say

I attended Bigrigg meeting and wasn't that greatly impressed, people were looking at maps and were still having to ask each other where exactly is that. There were other printouts where you would have needed a magnifying glass over another magnifying glass to read any references. There were only 3 residents who received a letter and I wasn't asked to take part in any survey and I don't know of anyone who has. I'm not against he solar panel park as such, my concerns about the rights of way and visual impact have been allayed, my concerns now are whether this land would be changed to brown field land in the future.

Posted by Concerned Bigrigg resident on 27 June 2014 at 08:08

I am all for green energy and think this is a great idea as long as these are hidden from view neighboring towns and villages do not want to see these as they would spoil our views, I would be all for this if it was hidden and this stopped people erecting turbines in areas of natural beauty and hopefully the £10,000 can be used to make these people take them down they are an eye sore that we do not want

Posted by the bugg on 26 June 2014 at 13:00

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