Massive solar park for Redbourn Green Belt site
- Credit: Archant
Ambitious plans for a 17-hectare solar park on a Green Belt site have been revealed, opposite land where a television archaeological team unearthed ancient Roman temples.
Rural development consultants Adas Leeds are proposing to build the solar park between Harpenden and Redbourn, adjacent to Redbourn Golf Club.
But one part of the site is near farmland featured by Channel Four’s Time Team five years ago where the historic remains of four temples were unearthed.
At that time, it was the first discovery of its kind from more than 150 potential sites in the then 15-year history of the programme.
Adas has not yet lodged a planning application with St Albans district council but has asked the authority for a screening opinion on whether it needs an environmental impact assessment to accompany any future scheme.
The council is considering whether such an assessment is necessary.
Adas said the proposal was for a series of 2.3 metre-high solar panels, mounted on frames installed in the ground.
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The development footprint would be about 42 acres on land currently used for farming.
But the council has been told by district archaeologist Simon West that a field adjacent to the south west corner contains the remains of four Roman temples and other features dating from at least the Bronze Age, including ditches.
He said: “This site was uncovered during a Time Team project [during filming] in June 2008.”
An outline of the historic remains was also highlighted in a 1976 aerial photograph.
Simon said that English Heritage was currently considering whether to schedule the field, as it was a “nationally significant site which would extend beyond the boundaries of the modern field.
“The area of the proposal is 17 hectares which is a significant area of land potentially undergoing disturbance.”
He warned that earthworks could “significantly impact” the topsoil where there may be artefacts, and any archaeological deposits deeper in the ground.
Simon added that should the proposal go ahead, any surface or below-ground “archaeological [features] would be permanently lost or at least disrupted”.
When the Time Team show aired, archaeologists uncovered not only temples but artefacts including a finely preserved coin dated from the reign of Constantine, the emperor who converted both himself and the empire to Christianity.
There were also “curse tablets” inscribed with wishes for good luck or punishment pleas to the gods.