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Renewable energy: Farmers air concerns at heated event

Dozens of farmers worried about plans to sell off their land near Peterborough took part in a heated meeting with council chiefs on Tuesday (4 September).

Around 100 people attended a meeting at Thorney Golf Club over the council’s plans to sell than 3,000 acres of farmland for renewable energy parks.

In July, the council was granted outline planning permission to build solar panels and wind turbines on three sites – 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.

A number of worried farmers hit out at the plans during the meeting with several people accusing the council of only being interested in making money from the project.

One of the farmers, Jackie Dugdale raised concerns about the levels of silicon and lead contained within solar panels while another warned there would be ecological dangers of building on land which had been farmed for centuries and was also made up of flood plains.

David Sanders, councillor for Eye and Thorney, also criticised the council for not consulting with him about the plans.

He said: “We have been left in the dark by the council and it’s outrageous.

“In my opinion, we are being stitched up by the council – all they are interested in is money. They are not interested in the livelihood of the farmers of which I have grown up with.

“My message to the council is if you want a fight you have come to the right place.”

Lee Collins, council’s manager for the project, stressed that it was at an early stage and that views aired at the meeting would be taken on board.