Anger over plans for a solar farm

The area of woodland where a solar farm could be created.
The area of woodland where a solar farm could be created.

Angry residents have hit out at plans for a new solar farm, saying it could cause significant damage to the environment.

Residents believe there will be no ecological benefit to the proposed farm on the site of the former colliery site in Ashington as it would involve removing nearly 44,000 trees.

The proposed solar farm, in a north west section of the Ashington Community Woodland, would be made up of around 16,000 panels on a site of about ten hectares within the 135-hectare woodland, and would generate enough electricity to power 830 homes.

One objector said: “The bulldozing out of this fragile and valuable woodland beggars belief. The trees were planted on this compact acidic colliery shale to stabilise the material and prevent any further acidification.

“I am astounded to see that an ecologist refers in the application to ‘ecological benefits’ when considering destroying 43,176 trees.”

In a report to the council’s planning committee, objector Maureen Dyer added: “I consider that the proposal to rip out a good part of the Ashington Community Woods is abhorrent.

“I have no objections to solar farms but I do object to the destruction of woodland to accommodate them.”

Robert Shepherd added: “Although I would normally support the general idea of solar development I think that protected lands should be just that: protected.

“Leave this land alone.”

The proposal is due to go before planners on September 1.