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Farmers could be forced out in energy park bid

Worried farmers held a crisis meeting after Peterborough City Council decided to look into selling off their farms for renewable energy parks.

The council’s cabinet agreed on Tuesday to research in more detail developing renewable energy sites at three council-owned farm areas spanning over 3,000 acres – America Farm, Morris Fen and Newborough Farm.

If the plans are given the go-ahead by cabinet next year, several tenant farmers would be forced to leave their sites to make way for solar farms, wind farms or a combination of the two.

Farmers met yesterday to discuss the plans and Jackie Dugdale, of Lower Willow Farm, Newborough, said that she believes the sale would generate around £10 million for the council.

She added: “There are a lot of worried farmers out there – we have 15 tenant farmers in the Newborough area. My husband and I are in our 50s, we can retire soon, but for the young farmers in the area this could be devastating.

“We are arable farmers and there is always going to be demand for our services. What we would like to see is some form of negotiation rather than a blanket sell-off. Why can’t small solar panels and wind turbines be built alongside our farms instead?”

Over the next six months the council will investigate three options of developing the sites before deciding whether to go ahead with any solar farms in February 2013 and wind farms in September 2013. It comes as the council looks at ways to reduce its carbon footprint, which stands at 22,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. The renewable sites could result in up to 57,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year being saved.

No-one from the council was available to comment.