James raises Lime Down Solar scheme in Parliament as campaign against large scale solar continues

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James Gray, Member of Parliament for North Wiltshire yesterday raised the proposed Lime Down Solar project in Parliament. Speaking during questions to the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, James said:

“If the Minister had wanted to see the impact that a massive solar farm, such as the so-called Lime Down carbuncle in my constituency, will have on local people, he should have come to the public meeting I called in Malmesbury town hall last week, where 750 people were protesting against this appalling plan in North Wiltshire.”

“It is going to be 2,000 acres of panels, 3 million panels, 5,000 acres blighted, and 30 miles to the nearest connection down at Melksham. It is an absolutely disgraceful proposal. It comes at a time when Wiltshire has eight out of 10 of the largest solar farms. We already have enough, vastly exceeding our county target for solar production. Will the Minister consider the cumulative effect of all these solar farms? Will he ask the National Infrastructure Commission to take into account the cumulative effect of solar farms when considering such applications?”

Responding, Andrew Bowie MP, Minister for Nuclear and Renewables said

“I very much thank my hon. Friend for that question. He raises a very interesting topic, and one that we are listening to. The project he speaks to is at the pre-application stage. An application is expected to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate between January and March 2025. Due to my quasi-judicial role in determining applications for development consent, it is not appropriate to comment on any specific matters. I am aware that some of his constituents are coming to Parliament this Thursday and I will be happy to meet them to discuss their concerns.”

This followed a question from another Member of Parliament about large scale solar projects to which Justin Tomlinson, Member of Parliament for Swindon North and Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero was clear that:

“Solar projects should be directed to previously developed or non-greenfield land”

Reiterating this at Prime Ministers Questions today, Rishi Sunak said:

“We do want to see more solar, which is one of the cheapest forms of energy, but, as he said, on brownfield sites, rooftops and away from our best agricultural land. That is why our recently published national infrastructure planning rules set out the requirement for solar not to be placed on what is described as the best and most valuable versatile land where possible.”

Following his question James said:

“The Governments reassurance that solar must not be placed on good quality land, like that in North Wiltshire is positive news for those who want to stop this development.

I am looking forward to seeing constituents in Westminster for tomorrow’s debate on large scale solar and am pleased that the Minister has agreed to meet with members of the ‘Stop Lime Down’ campaign to hear their concerns”.

James has promised to keep constituents updated as the efforts to stop this development continue.


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