Peterborough solar farm: Residents plan to fight development

Peterborough City Council wants to build solar and wind parks at three sites it owns near Newborough

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About 150 villagers living near Peterborough have pledged to fight a scheme to build a solar energy farm.

Peterborough City Council wants to put thousands of solar panels and wind turbines on 900 acres (365 hectares) of farmland across three sites it owns.

The largest site would be on 500 acres (200 hectares) of land farmed by tenants near the village of Newborough.

The council claims the project would help achieve renewable energy targets and profits would keep tax bills low.

The National Farmers Union (NFU) is opposing the plans claiming 18 tenant farmers could lose their livelihoods.

Specialist lawyer hired

It also believes acres of prime agricultural land would be lost to the development.

About 150 residents attended a meeting in Newborough on Wednesday night where people expressed anger that the council had hired a barrister specialising in renewable energy to advise them on the project.

Protesters said the appointment would put them at a disadvantage when it comes to fighting the plans.

Council leader Marco Cereste said he had no qualms about hiring specialist help to ensure the project was successful.

The project would need investment of more than £400m over 25 years - £331m for the solar farms and £94m for the wind turbines.

Part of the funding would come from the council's capital programme while the rest would be borrowed from government, private and institutional investors.

The council said it was working "closely" with farmers and would plant hedgerows to screen the panels.

It said the panels would be a minimum of 350ft (110m) from the nearest property.

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