Uttlesford’s ‘flat landscape and discreet sites’ makes it ideal for solar farms, says developer

An example of what could be a more common sight across Uttlesford's landscape with the possibility o

An example of what could be a more common sight across Uttlesford's landscape with the possibility of more solar farms on the way. - Credit: Archant

UTTLESFORD could become a haven for solar farms as renewable energy companies are drawn to the area’s “flat landscape and discreet sites”.

Plans for the latest farm – this time in Little Bardfield – were revealed at a meeting on Tuesday night when the firm Push Energy consulted the public about its scheme to build a solar farm on a field southwest of Markswood Farm.

This latest application follows recent proposals to construct farms in Stebbing, Thaxted, Great Leighs and Henham.

Solar farms currently take up 100 acres of space in the Uttlesford countryside, but, if proposed developments are given the green light, the figure will more than double to 202.2 acres.

Stuart Bradshaw, director of Push Energy, said: “We like to build our sites in areas that are out of sight and we have chosen the site in Little Bardfield because it’s a very discreet location.

“Uttlesford has a flat landscape and the site we have chosen, in particular, has a good grid connection. There was another site to the north but we picked this one because it’s more out of the way.

“If everything goes to plan we would like to build within the next 12 months, but it depends on how this consultation goes. Our planning application will be for 25 years but the lifespan of the solar panels is more like 45 years.”

Most Read

However, there are concerns the site “could open up the countryside to development”.

Mike Edridge, a resident of Bardfield Road, said: “The site in Little Bardfield is the best one they could have chosen and I appreciate it has got to go somewhere. What I am concerned about, and I think everyone else is too, is the crippling effect this could have. If a landowner decides they are making a lot of money from these solar farms, what’s to stop them extending the leases?”

Over the past 12 months the Reporter and Broadcast has reported on five proposals to develop solar farms in Uttlesford.

Two weeks ago, Green Switch Energy Solutions submitted a screening opinion for a 22-acre solar farm across two fields close to Lashley Hall, Stebbing, while, in January, Hive Energy was granted permission to build a solar park at Spriggs Farm, Thaxted. This now produces 15 MW of power – enough for 4,465 homes.

In the same month, Lightsource made a screening opinion application to build a solar farm on a 15.5 hectare site east of Milch Hill Lane, Great Leighs, and last August a 60-acre site north of Henham was also earmarked. MS Power Projects had aspirations to provide enough energy for 2,500 homes, but the application is yet to be made.