Cambridgeshire community could lose out on a £1.25 million investment if Eric Pickles blocks solar farm plan

Eric Pickles will scrutinise plans for a 250-acre solar farm Eric Pickles will scrutinise plans for a 250-acre solar farm

Friday, August 29, 2014
10:11 AM

Developers keen to build a 250-acre solar farm say the local community could lose out on a £1.25 million investment if the project is blocked by communities secretary Eric Pickles.

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As reported in the Crow last week, the scheme at Vine Farm, Shingay-cum-Wendy, has been recommended for approval by South Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee, but is now being looked at by the government’s department for communities and local government (DCLG).

Carl-Niklas Wentzel is managing director of UK Solar Provider, and said the scheme has evolved to the point where it has the backing of many local people.

He said: “We consulted early with the parish and local residents, and while there initially was opposition to our original proposals, we have since had intensive conversations with the parish and statutory consultees.

“Importantly, we have negotiated 
a legally binding agreement with 
the local residents relating to the mitigation of the effects of the 
solar development. This has enabled the Parishes of Shingay-cum-Wendy and Bassingbourn to support this scheme.”

Mr Wentzel said a 75-acre ‘wildlife corridor’ would be built to screen 
the solar farm from homes. This would be accessible to residents 
via a series of footpaths and bridleways.

“Additionally, as community stakeholders, a non-profit-company which is owned and run by residents, an income stream of no less than £50,000 per year for 25 years, totalling not less than £1.25m in current value will be received.

“Now this is all at risk, due to the referral to the DCLG. We run a very tight timeline and are simply risking project success.

“The community and us have put in hundreds of hours to work out a solution that is widely received as beneficial, and now we are simply waiting and waiting until we potentially run out of time.”

The solar farm now has the backing of both Wendy and Bassingbourn parish councils.

A spokesman for the DCLG 
it was not able to comment on the reasons behind the decision to look at the solar farm scheme in further detail.

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