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Plan for solar farm on 284 acres of farming and Green Belt land at Wickham Hall on outskirts of Bishop's Stortford

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A solar farm covering an area the size of almost 200 football pitches is being planned on farmland and Green Belt straddling the East Herts and Uttlesford border.

Endurance Estates and Infraland Lane Ltd wants to put around 14,000 photovoltaic panels in south- or south-west-facing rows on 284 acres (115 hectares) of the Wickham Hall farming estate next to the new A120 Little Hadham bypass.

The land is currently used for arable crops, but in a report to East Herts and Uttlesford district councils, DLP Planning argues that the farm's agricultural efficiency has been hampered "by the severing of the landholding through the construction of the A120 bypass".

Solar farm plans (44641582)
Solar farm plans (44641582)

The developers have requested a 'screening opinion' from both councils' planning departments. It asks the authorities to determine if a full environmental impact assessment (EIA) is required as part of a formal planning application.

The solar arrays, 2 to 3 metres (6ft 6in to 9ft 10in) high, would be spaced around 4m (13ft) apart. The farm would take less than 20 weeks to install and has a 40-year life span, producing up to 49.9MW of renewable electricity for the National Grid.

The panels would be erected to the north of Bloodhounds Wood and west of Bailey Hills, within Uttlesford, and between Bloodhounds Wood and High Wood to the boundary with the Little Hadham bypass. It extends on the north-east side of the new road towards Walnuttree Green.

Solar farm plans (44641589)
Solar farm plans (44641589)

The East Herts land totals 210 acres (85ha) primarily in the parish of Albury but with incursions into Little Hadham and Bishop's 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 borders.

A report by DLP Planning, outlining the scheme, concedes that protected barbastelle bats, badgers, dormice, great crested newts, slow worms, grass snakes and skylarks might use the land. The ground beneath solar panels can be used to graze animals or grow grass and wildflowers.

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