SOLAR: Fears for woodland

On June 11, I wrote to the News Post Leader in response to the proposed plan of Northumberland County Council to ‘destroy’ an area of Ashington woodland in order to erect a solar farm, with the intention of producing electricity for 830 homes.

As the planning application (Ref 15/02357/CCD) has now been submitted, I realise that the proposed area is different to the one I stated in my letter, but nevertheless it is still part of the same woodland scheme.

This is a larger woodland area, with more mature trees, and the destruction caused will therefore be even more disastrous. I wish to correct the following information.

1. The area involved is 13.17 hectares, not ten hectares as previously stated;

2. The trees in this area are actually 23-years-old, not 13-years-old;

3. This area contained 43,176 trees when planted, not 30,000, so considerably more will be bulldozed;

4. This semi-mature woodland area consists of many species, with average heights of: Birch 12.9m (42.3ft) Red Alder 14.7m (48.2ft), Scots Pine 13.7m (44.9ft) and Hybrid Larch 16.3m (53.5ft).

I apologise for the previous misinformation, but the destruction caused to this area is considerably greater than that which would have occurred in the area I previously mentioned. I am shocked at these proposals and my concerns remain the same.

I cannot believe that those in charge of Northumberland’s ecological assets could consider erecting solar panels on areas of semi mature woodland, such as this reclaimed former pit heap.

Here, the trees have commenced the process of converting acid colliery shale to a valuable mineral soil, and massive destruction on this scale undermines their future ecological significance to areas such as this.

Inert places should be found for solar panels, not places of fertile agricultural land, or in this case, productive and environmentally beneficial woodland.