John Nettles fights plans to build Devon’s biggest solar farm next to his home – Devon Live

Actor John Nettles is spearheading a campaign to fight against plans to build the biggest solar farm in the county to date on the doorstep of his Devon home.

Best known for his roles in Bergerac and Midsomer Murders, John moved to North Devon more than a decade ago. He already lives next to an existing solar farm, and says he was appalled when plans for a 150-acre solar farm at Litchardon Cross was unanimously approved last month, despite valid objections from local people who will have to bear the impact of it.

Fearful that an even bigger 164-acre proposal at Derril Water near Pyworthy will similarly be given the go-ahead, John is now spearheading a campaign being led by Devon Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

John’s smallholding near Holsworthy, where he keeps donkeys and horses, is next to land on which South East based developer RES wants to install nearly 76,000 solar panels on 29,200 pile-driven posts surrounded by 5.4 miles of security fencing, 85 CCTV cameras on poles, and 15 inverter substations in industrial containers each with hard-standing.

Actor John Nettles
Actor John Nettles
(Image: MATT AUSTIN)

John, the author and narrator of Channel 4’s Devon and Cornwall series, said: “I’m supporting Devon CPRE’s opposition to this hideous scheme because enough is enough. There are already several solar farms in this neck of the woods, including one on the south-eastern boundary of the proposed site and another about a kilometre away.

“People need to understand the enormous scale and visual impact of these solar farms. Three together would desecrate the pastoral vista in this part of Devon, turning it into an industrialised landscape of solar panels and security fencing stretching across 28 fields.

“Developers claim livestock can continue to graze the land, but that’s nonsense. It would ruin 164 acres of pasture for at least 40 years. Local Planning Authority Torridge District Council has to say no.”

More than four thousand acres of farmland in Devon, more than seven square miles of agricultural land, have already been developed for solar farms and plans for several other massive solar installations are yet to be decided, totalling 1,000 acres.

The Derril Water proposal is within a mile of the Upper Tamar Area of Great Landscape Value and within two miles of two other AGLVs.

Aerial view of proposed Derril Water solar farm

John, who was born in Cornwall, said: “Obviously we all need to reduce our carbon footprint, but it’s a question of getting the right balance. Decision-makers may think they’re doing the right thing by consenting to what the solar farm developers claim to be ‘green energy’, however, they have failed to take into account the carbon footprint of manufacturing 76,000 solar panels on the other side of the world, transported and installed here.

“And what happens to them at the end of their life; do they just go to landfill? Because of all this, the carbon footprint of solar farms starts with a huge deficit. They are simply not low carbon.

“Wouldn’t they be better located and produce more electricity in a much sunnier climate rather than taking up our green fields in our northern hemisphere with our rainy weather?”

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Devon CPRE says it is the only organisation in the county fighting to protect the countryside from inappropriate development. S

Devon CPRE director Penny Mills said: “Perhaps planners will sit up and take notice now that a respected actor and household name is supporting our opposition to the Pyworthy proposal.

Aerial view of Pitworthy Solar Farm

“As a result of the pandemic, we know people have both a greater appreciation of the true value of the countryside and a greater understanding of how easily we can destroy the natural balance of nature – at our peril.

“Let’s not fool ourselves; this part of Devon is on the verge of being ruined. We don’t see any justification for yet another massive industrial proposal. Why do we want to destroy Devon’s unique selling point; its beautiful countryside.”

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Source: https://www.devonlive.com/news/devon-news/john-nettles-fights-plans-build-5449048

May 24, 2021 Mary Sparks