July 24 2014 Latest news:
By Matthew Gooding
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Work has started on a controversial 35-acre solar farm which will provide enough power for 2,200 homes.
Construction of the solar farm, at Wisbridge Farm near Barkway, began this week, and is expect to take 10-12 weeks.
Planning permission for the farm was granted in March 2013, despite 14 letters of objection from nearby residents and opposition voiced by Barkway Parish Council.
However, developers Push Energy say they are working with the local council and the community to ensure construction traffic avoids Barkway and other nearby villages such as Barley.
Stuart Bradshaw, CEO at Push Energy said: “We’ve worked closely with the landowner, North Hertfordshire District Council, and the local community to ensure everyone is on board with the project. The site at Wisbridge is discreet and well protected by trees and established hedgerows which made the land a good choice for our first site.
“The land is of the lower grade in the range typically found in the region and is situated on a chalk ridge at almost the highest point in the county. Once the solar panels are in place, the 35 acres will also be used to graze sheep.”
The 9.6MW solar farm will cover a 35-acre area. Push Build, who are undertaking the construction work, say they are employing 20 local people as part of the job, and that a series of trees and hedgerows will be planted to mask the farm and maintain the area’s biodiversity.
Wisbridge Farm was the first of a string of solar farm plans which have cropped up in the last 18 months in North Hertfordshire and South Cambridgeshire.
Despite critics of the scheme, farmer Tom Duke, who owns the land, told The Crow that he believes the benefits outweigh the negatives.
Speaking at the time the application was announced, he said: “I believe solar power to be the most reliable, low impact, proven form of renewable energy.
“It is a change of use but we need to strike a balance. Of course we need land to grow food too, but I believe this using this relatively small piece of land to power houses is a fair trade-off.”