Solar Farm Residents Group – Solar Farm Threat To Our Countryside January 2021

This is an update on the Solar Farm Residents Group view on the proposals for a 200-acre solar farm by Enso Energy in six fields on land of Silchester’s Church Lane Farm and Bramley’s Vyne Lodge Farm. The document also contains suggestions on actions for residents. 

These six large fields around the Bramley Frith covers most of the gap between Bramley and Silchester affecting residents of both villages, encroaching on the local area’s biodiversity, archaeological heritage, breathtaking views and much-loved pathways.

For most of us who don’t know an acre from an acorn, 200 acres is a lot of acres. It is about the size of 140 football pitches, which is 50 times the size of Silchester or Bramley Clift Meadow playing fields. Two Silchester Roman walled towns could fit in it!

If planning permission is granted by the twelve members of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Development Control Committee, it would become the fifth largest solar farm in England and the largest in England on agricultural land.

Of course, given climate challenges facing our planet we certainly need to increase the sustainability of our energy production in Hampshire and across the UK.  However, this should be done in an appropriate manner: not on agricultural land, over half of which is designated as good quality or better, nor on prime open greenbelt, and not on top of internationally recognised Roman heritage remains. There must be more appropriate sites such as disused quarries, the roofs of buildings and poor-quality land? If built, the site would be in commission for around 30 years.  It would then be deemed a brownfield site, opening the door to more new housing in the community on formerly agricultural land.

Around 50 concerned Silchester and Bramley residents submitted comments on the initial pre-screening submission. Numerous concerns were raised including the harmful visual impact hundreds of solar panels and deer fencing will have on local cherished footpaths such as The Silchester Trail and Brenda Parker Way;  to concerns that water-run off may lead to more flooding.   A formal planning application has now been submitted to Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council (BDBC) and it is very important that if you have concerns you submit your views so they can be taken into account. The application number is 20/03403/FUL and the application can be seen at  tinyurl.com/bramleysolar
In opposition of the current proposal a local residents’ group has been formed to hear the views from others in the community and to coordinate a response to BDBC Planning. Through both the Village magazines for Silchester and Bramley, and our own website we plan to disseminate information and will also produce a template letter of comment for you to use to get your personal opinion across to the planning team.

Given short timescales (consultation closes in February) we recommend to those of you interested that you take the time to familiarise yourselves with the proposed project by visiting our website or emailing solarfarmresidentsgroup@gmail.com to subscribe to our updates and ask any questions you may have.