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The Archers: sensitively sited solar farm real opportunity for Ambridge

The Solar Trade Association and National Solar Centre send NSC Planning and Biodiversity Guidance to Borchester Land and Ambridge planning committee.

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Radio 4’s Ambridge is to consider a planning application from Borchester Land for a solar farm. While Brian and Jenny Aldridge have expressed concerns the Solar Trade Association and the National Solar Centre are urging them to press Borchester Land to pursue best practice in solar farms, to ensure that the local wildlife, farmers and the local community benefit.

The STA and the NSC have contacted Graham Harvey, the Archers agricultural advisor, with best practice planning produced by the NSC which advises on sensitive siting of solar farms and against the use of high-grade agricultural land. A copy of the NSC’s recent Biodiversity Guidance recently launched at Kew Gardens with RSPB and The National Trust has also been included. This recommends creating protected habitats for endangered wildlife or rare wild flowers within the solar farm.

Jonny Williams, Associate Director at the National Solar Centre commented:

“A solar farm would be a fantastic opportunity for Ambridge to make the most of the sun’s free and unlimited energy – and show the world the benefits of solar. However, it is vital that Borchester Land delivers a high quality scheme that delivers real benefits to the local community. We urge them and the local planning committee to pay close attention to our guidance.”

Opportunities in Ambridge include using the solar farm to protect local endangered species. Solar farms can also work alongside existing agricultural practices, such a sheep grazing and bee-keeping. Government, industry and community groups are also increasingly pressing for shared-ownership schemes, with the inhabitants of Ambridge potentially benefiting financially from shares or bonds in the local solar farm.

Leonie Greene, Head of External Affairs at the Solar Trade Association said;

It would be great if Borchester Land could work with the local farms to deliver solar farms alongside their existing agriculture. David and Ruth Archer would find their financial woes lessened if they had solar to help mitigate the risks of increasingly variable weather on their sheep and lamb business. We hope Borchester Land will also offer the local community the opportunity to buy shares or bonds in the scheme, and suspect that Linda Snell would be particularly effective at marshalling the good folk of Ambridge into an effective Community Energy scheme. And this all comes just as the Government is threatening to tilt the playing field against large-scale solar.”

The Solar Trade Association has also extended a heartfelt invitation to all Ambridge locals to come and visit a nearby solar farm taking part in Solar Independence Day on Friday 4 July. Solar farms across the country will be opening their doors to local schools and communities so that everyone has the opportunity to come and visit the farms to see for themselves how solar works.


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