Proposals for a 100 acre solar panel farm within a few miles of one of the north’s grandest country houses have been submitted to Harrogate Borough Council.
Renewable energy firm Greenswitch Solutions have applied for an Environment Impact Assessment on proposals for a 106 acre solar panel farm to the east of Green lane and north of Weeton lane.
The site is closest to the village of Weeton but is just a few miles from the 18th century Harewood House which attracts around 200,000 visitors each year.
Margaret Wilkinson, chair of Harewood Parish Council said: “I don’t know if it would be visible from Harewood but it would likely be visible from Harewood Bank, it would be a shame spoiling the Wharfe Valley.”
As the application is outside of Harewood, the parish council had not been consulted. Mrs Wilkinson added: “From what I understand it isn’t a full application yet, but we will be keeping an eye on it.”
In a letter to Harrogate Borough Council Greenswitch Solutions outline their plans for solar panels, mounted three metres off the ground on the 106 acre site.
Planning administrator Jennifer Gill writes: “The proposed development will have no adverse impact on the conservation, historic or landscape setting of settlements.
“The impact on character and views will be limited because of the small height and little movement of the panels. The proposed development does not encroach upon the links between built up areas within the countryside.”
She added: “The nature of the solar panel farm is reversible, reducing its impact, which is likely to be decommissioned after 25 years.”
One of the Parish Councils that has been consulted is Kirkby Overblow. Clerk John Perry said the council were set to discuss the application in the coming weeks.
He added: “From a personal point of view they are far less intrusive and not as visible as wind turbines.”
Villagers from Kearby, Sicklinghall and Kirkby Overblow banded together to oppose two planning applications for wind turbines in Sicklinghall and Kearby in 2012. Both applications were later withdrawn.
Coun Shirley Fawcett (Con, Spofforth with Lower Wharfedale) said: “It probably will impact on Harewood as well as surrounding villages Weeton, Kearby and Kirky Overblow. It is difficult, as we are being encouraged to help with green energy.”
See the plans on Harrogate Council’s planning portal website, ref: 14/00537/SCREEN. Email Ackrill.News@ypn.co.uk with your views.