Government blocks solar farm as big as 180 football pitches

A renewable energy developer has had plans for a solar farm the size of nearly 180 football pitches kyboshed by the government.

In December last year, Enso Energy unveiled fresh plans for a new solar farm saying it would power the electricity needs of 15,600 family homes.

Enso Energy submitted proposals for two joined sites between Watford and Borehamwood in Hertfordshire, asking for permission to build solar panels, battery storage and underground cables.

The size of the project was said to equate to 179 football pitches.

According to a ruling reported by the Local Democracy Reporting Service, the government has rejected the plans.

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In its ruling, the government highlighted potential harm to the area, although it said it recognised the importance of green energy.

Planning minister Lee Rowley, on behalf of Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove, ruled “very special circumstances do not exist” to justify the project in the green belt on the edge of London, in comments reported by the BBC.

The minister said the solar farm could also harm the landscape, including nearby Hilfield Castle which dates to the late 1700s.

The government said: “The secretary of state considers substantial weight should be applied to collective green belt harm, including inappropriate development, harm to both spatial and visual openness and harm to green belt purposes.”

Hertsmere Borough Council had previously refused the project’s planning permission in 2021 over fears it would harm the green belt and nearby heritage sites.

In January this year, the UK completed the biggest-ever transfer of community energy assets, meaning solar farms with a collective capacity of 36MWp  and potential profits of £20m have gone into community ownership.

Circular economyEnergyInnovationNature and the environmentNet zeroNews

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