Large M1 solar farm would put village under ‘great threat’ – Yahoo News UK

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The plans would see over 15,000 panels installed on land next to the Donington Park service station at Junction 23a of the M1 -Credit:LDRS

The impact of a major new solar farm by the M1 has been described as “devastating” by villages that live near the site. The project, proposed by Moto Hospitality Limited, was revealed in February and would see more than 15,000 photovoltaic solar panels installed on land next to the Donington Park service station at Junction 23a of the M1.

Leicestershire Live reports that the proposal has been labelled as “much-needed” by developers, but concerned residents have now voiced major fears about the plan. Some have claimed the plans are “opportunistic” and “lazy” despite their eco credentials.

If the scheme was approved, the ground-mounted solar farm would be in close proximity to East Midlands Airport. Residents in nearby Diseworth, Leicestershire, are worried about the loss of green space, with one claiming the solar farm put the village under “great threat”.

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The plan, which is currently before North West Leicestershire District Council (NWLDC), would see 19 rows of static solar panels erected on land south of the service station area, while transformer units and battery storage containers would also be put in place. Agents Rapleys said the solar farm would be in operation for 40 years and would in fact “enrich biodiversity” and “enhance the landscape” of the area.

However, that claim has been contested by many. Long Whatton and Diseworth Parish Council said the solar farm would remove designated paths used by walkers and harm the area for residents already facing major development around them.

It said: “This proposal will add to the devastating and cumulative effect on the village of Diseworth. This [land] forms part of the only circular walk in the area […] a feature that has been enjoyed by our residents for around 25 years.”

Other residents claimed the land was “essential” to their daily lives, saying it provided “solace and tranquillity” from modern life. One said: “The areas earmarked for development are not just parcels of land; they are essential to our daily lives. Moreover, they are home to a diverse array of wildlife, contributing to the rich tapestry of biodiversity that makes Diseworth so special. The [proposal] threatens to erase a vital part of our natural heritage.”

Some concerned residents have called for a rethink on the positioning of the solar panels, with the roof of the service area proposed by many. One said the current plan was “lazy” and “daft” and that moving the panels to the roof “works incredibly well on the continent”.

Rapleys say their design is “crucial” in efforts to meet net zero targets, with the farm producing 9MW of power to EV chargers to help power vehicles. The planning agents also claimed that the farm would not lead to “significant adverse impacts” and would actually boast a “positive impact” on the area despite some concerns.

Rapleys added that there was a “significant need” for the solar farm and that once its 40 years were complete, the farm would be decommissioned and the site vacated. NWLDC will decide on the solar farm at a later date.

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