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Stansted Airport begins consultation on solar farm plans

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Stansted Airport has begun community consultation on its plans for a solar farm.

The proposal, revealed by the Indie in October, is for a 14MW facility on land already owned by the airport's owner, MAG (Manchester Airports Group), close to High House Farm, Takeley.

The airport has pledged to implement a series of screening measures such as planting new trees, reinstating hedgerows and planting new hedgerows in the event its application is approved by planning authority Uttlesford District Council.

Stansted Airport terminal (53389293)
Stansted Airport terminal (53389293)

The solar farm is designed to meet and secure the airport's energy demands and is in keeping with its commitment to make its operations net zero carbon by no later than 2038.

The consultation at www.stanstedairport.com/community ends on Christmas Eve (Dec 24). After the feedback is analysed, Stansted will add its planning application to a growing number of schemes to be determined by UDC.

The authority has already toughened up its development policies. Conservative Cllr Susan Barker, the member for High Easter and the Rodings, and Liberal Democrat Cllr Janice Loughlin, who represents Stort Valley, won widespread support for the imposition of a condition to safeguard the sites' agricultural future.

An example of a solar farm (53389346)
An example of a solar farm (53389346)

Their motion said: "Any successful planning application for a solar farm or other energy-producing scheme on a green field in the Countryside Protection Zone or Green Belt site will have a condition applied to the permission which states that 'should all or part of the application site cease to be used for energy production the site will be returned to its green field/belt status and will not be considered as a brownfield site'."

Their action reflects growing concern in Uttlesford and East Herts villages including Berden, Manuden, Furneux Pelham, Stocking Pelham, Langley, Little Hadham and Farnham about proposals for solar farms and lithium battery storage units in the parishes.

Several campaign groups have been formed, including Protect the Pelhams, to protest against the applications and emerging proposals for hundreds of acres of farmland.

Consultation has begun on plans for a solar farm the size of around 200 football pitches on the outskirts of Bishop's Stortford.

Solar farm plans (53389381)
Solar farm plans (53389381)

Cambridgeshire-based Endurance Energy's project for Wickham Hall farm will produce up to 49.9MW of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes sustainably.

The 284-acre (115-hectare) site straddles the Herts and Essex border. East Herts land totals 210 acres (85ha), primarily in the parish of Albury but with incursions into Little Hadham and Stortford. The development would also extend over 76.6 acres (31ha) of Green Belt in Farnham, on the Essex side of the county and district border.

Low Carbon plc wants to use 251 acres (101ha) for solar panels and energy storage at Berden. The site, known as Pelham Spring or Battles solar farm, extends into Manuden and is close to Furneux Pelham.

Aerial drone photograph of rows of solar panels creating an abstract full-frame background texture of blue and green on a bright sunny day.. (53389326)
Aerial drone photograph of rows of solar panels creating an abstract full-frame background texture of blue and green on a bright sunny day.. (53389326)

The area already has a lithium-ion battery plant, Pelham Storage. The Statera Energy facility has a peak output of 49.99MW and the potential to provide enough power for over 13,000 average UK homes at any moment.

Its operator has asked UDC for a screening opinion – a procedure used to determine whether a proposed project is likely to have significant effects on the environment – before it submits an application for another plant on a 165-acre (66ha) plot adjacent to the sub-station, south of Berden on the Stocking Pelham Road.

Pelham Power Ltd has already asked East Herts Council for planning permission for a 50MW battery energy storage system facility north of the sub-station on land at Green's Farm, Stocking Pelham. The site – 3.5 acres (1.42ha) of cultivated agricultural land – is in the hamlet of East End.

A further solar installation has been mooted by Renewable Connections on 150 acres (60ha) running parallel with Violets Lane, Furneux Pelham.

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