Solar power farm mooted for Redbourn agricultural land

The proposed site for an array of solar panels in Redbourn as seen from the corner of Hemel Hempstea

The proposed site for an array of solar panels in Redbourn as seen from the corner of Hemel Hempstead Road and Holtsmere End Lane - Credit: Archant

A solar power farm could be built on a Green Belt site in St Albans even though local councillors want the agricultural land used for food production.

Camborne Energy Investments is proposing to build the farm in Redbourn, on fields bounded by Holtsmere End Lane, Hemel Hempstead Road, and Little Revel End, to feed directly into the National Grid.

Although it has yet to lodge a planning application, the firm has asked St Albans district council (SADC) to initially consider a screening opinion, on whether it needs an environmental impact assessment to accompany the scheme.

The council is still considering whether such an assessment is necessary.

According to a report submitted by land and property consultants Robinson and Hall on the proposal, the location does not lie within a “sensitive” area.

Initial information on the development shows there would be rows of solar panels, placed from east to west, ranging in height from 1.4 to 2.2 metres, on about 20 hectares of the 35ha site.

Panels would be connected to the national grid, to generate up to eight megawatts of power.

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A 2.1 metre high security fence would be installed within the site, to restrict access.

The consultants’ report adds that the development would have low impact on ground conditions, and sheep would be able to graze between and beneath the panels as an alternative to machine mowing, “retaining agricultural use of the site while also generating additional income for the farmer”.

The report added that solar power farms would play an increasingly important part in moving the UK towards a low carbon economy.

Robinson and Hall said the yet-to-be lodged planning application should not need an environmental statement because of the “passive operational nature” of solar power farms.

However the Redbourn parish council has written an objection, telling SADC the development is “inappropriate” for the Green Belt, and that the “industrial scale of solar panels and associated infrastructure would not be in keeping with the rural nature of the landscape.

“It is valuable agricultural land for food production.”