Article by the Josh Nichols, Billericay Gazette: Plans to build a solar panel farm the size of 33 football pitches on greenbelt land in Billericay have met with derision by councillors.
Energy firm MS Power Projects has submitted a planning application to Basildon Council proposing the construction of a power farm on fields at Outwood Farm, off Outwood Farm Road.
The firm is hoping to build a 60-acre-site that would give power to 3,600 homes, which would be covered with hundreds of 2.5 metre panels and would save 4,000 tonnes a year of carbon dioxide emissions.
The firm hopes the renewable energy the site will see the plans approved but Cllr Jim Devlin, of Billericay Town Council, was quick to take a dim view of the project.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Jim Devlin"]I think MS Power Projects are in cloud cuckoo land about that one. My position on greenbelt is that it should be green and by green I do not mean it should be used for green technologies. I would be against any development on greenbelt land, we need green technology but not in those areas. Solar panels are worse than windmills in a way as they give off a big shiny light off the surface, they are ideal on top of roofs, but I do not think putting them in a nice area of countryside is right.[/quote]
Cllr Devlin also expressed concerns that the site which would be surrounded by a two metre fence and CCTV cameras at 35 metre intervals for security purposes could reduce the space between local settlements – something he is keen to avoid.
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Cllr Jim Devlin"]The proposal is an enormous amount of land and I do not think the proposal will get through, if you put something like that in the east of Billericay very quickly settlements will become very close together. We need to maintain gaps between settlements and if you put things like that in the field these gaps will disappear.[/quote]
[quote width="auto" align="none" border="#0066cc" color="#0066cc" title="Quoted by Leader of Basildon Council, Phil Turner"]Initially my view is that it is not a good use of greenbelt land, people in Billericay like to keep their greenbelt and they want it to stay that way. Having said that,from an environmental point of view it will provide renewable energy so we cannot just dismiss it. It will go the planning committee who will listen to it and make a conclusion. We have to be careful because if we just kick it out for spurious reasons then a government inspector could interfere and take the decision out of our hands.[/quote]
Article by John Nichols, Billericay Gazette