The Earl of Plymouth’s estate is planning a solar farm in Bromfield. It will be north of the gravel pit and food centre, squeezed between the railway and the Corve. The plans are at an early stage.
I think solar farms and wind turbines make an important contribution to our energy mix. I love Bryn Titli in Radnorshire because it is sensitive to the land it sits on. It is so aesthetic it should have won the Turner Prize for art. But I have raged against plans to build turbines near Lyveden New Bield and Naseby in Northants in countryside too special to be wrecked by tin windmills. I’d do the same if anyone planned a major solar or wind scheme within or adjacent to the Shropshire Hills AONB.
I don’t yet know whether I am in favour of the Bromfield scheme or not. My view will depend a lot on the detailed plans. I am concerned about views from the railway. Train passengers are treated to a fantastic run of countryside between Ludlow and Shrewsbury. It’s a great advert for our county. Would a solar farm ruin that? Would it advertise Shropshire as a modern county doing its bit to ensure that energy is renewable and is taking climate change seriously? Or would it say to travellers that our county is industrialised just like everywhere else?
I don’t know the answers to these questions.
I question what impact this scheme will have on river ecology. Will it need pylons east of the railway to connect to the grid? What sort of fencing will surround the scheme? Will it have a biodiversity management plan?
The Plymouth estate’s advisers are being very open and engaging about this scheme. At this stage, they are asking Shropshire Council whether an environmental impact assessment is needed (14/01114/SCR). Once plans are firmed up a bit more, they’ll be talking to Bromfield parish council and residents. That’s just right.
Solar power has to be a good thing. But the economics of solar schemes are about to change, according to the Guardian, with subsidies for ground mounted schemes expected to be cut.