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Further information on the Fosse Green Energy Solar Farm. 

The Fosse Green Energy Solar Park is a National Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP).  This means that it is considered to be of national importance similar to the Hinckley Point C Nuclear Power Station, The Stonehenge Tunnel and Heathrow’s Third Runway.

There is a special planning procedure for NSIPs.  Planning permission is not given by the Local Authority, but directly by the appropriate Secretary of State.  This procedure was introduced in 2008 to fast-track construction projects of major national interest.

To obtain planning approval The Developer (usually a consortium) must comply with a Direct Consultation Order (a DCO).  This means that The Developer is obliged to consult with the local authorities (NKDC and LCC) and the neighbouring communities before submitting an application to the Planning Inspectorate

Fosse Green Energy held non-statuary consultations (voluntary) consultations, to ‘test the water’, at Thorpe on the Hill, Witham St. Hughes, Navenby and Bassingham in September and October last year.  They will hold statuary consultations later this year.

The Parish Councils most affected by the Fosse Green Solar Park have formed an action group opposed to the development.  Swinderby Parish Council sends a representative to the meeting of this group.

Swinderby Parish Council has expressed its opposition to the Fosse Green Energy Solar Park on the grounds given in the flyer and this information sheet.   The Council appreciate that the community will have pro and contra views in which the need to combat climate change must be balanced against the loss of agricultural land.  

NKDC passed a Motion proposed by Cllr Peter Overton, regarding the development of solar farms in our area.  

 The Motion of Council was as follows:

1.    This council writes to the Minister of State for energy and net zero requesting a strategic approach across the country, where agricultural areas like North Kesteven do not become dumping grounds for excessive development.

2.    If legally possible, this council requests a sequential test be incorporated into planning decision-making, which enables solar developments on commercial roofs, car parks and other developed areas to be prioritised over open countryside.

The letter sent to the appropriate ministers is included as a appendix. 

If you wish to learn more about the Fosse Green Energy Solar Park or express your concerns about the development the contact details for Fosse Green Energy are as follows: 

Tel.: 0800 860 6262.
Website: www.


Dear Ms Coutinho MP,

Council Motion re: The effect of Solar Energy NSIPs on agricultural communities, landscapes and production 

I am writing to you in respect of a motion adopted by the Council pursuant to solar energy development across the administrative area of North Kesteven in Lincolnshire.  

As a Council we currently have four live solar energy NSIP proposals, these being Heckington Fen, Beacon Fen, Springwell Solar and Fosse Green Energy.  We are also dealing with related interest for associated infrastructure under the Town and Country Planning Act for a new grid connection, potential free-standing battery storage and other solar energy generating schemes of less than 50MW.

The Motion of Council was as follows:

1.    This council writes to the Minister of State for energy and net zero requesting a strategic approach across the country, where agricultural areas like North Kesteven do not become dumping grounds for excessive development.

2.    If legally possible, this council requests a sequential test be incorporated into planning decision-making, which enables solar developments on commercial roofs, car parks and other developed areas to be prioritised over open countryside.

At the outset it is important to say that the Council recognises the importance of delivering large-scale national infrastructure projects.  We take our role in supporting the delivery of renewable energy nationally significant infrastructure in the District very seriously, and we do so, not just because we understand the need for renewable energy generation and security, but equally because we have a deep understanding of climate change and the imperative to transition to net zero which is reflected in our own local plan (the Central Lincolnshire Local Plan adopted in April 2023) and the organisation’s corporate plan and Climate Emergency Action Plan.  The local plan provides in principle support for solar energy generating development unless it fails to conform to other criteria amongst which is the use of best and most versatile agricultural land. We also want to ensure that our local communities are fully engaged in the NSIP process and would advocate for Community Benefit Agreements being mandated by the Government as part of the process, with contributions directly proportionate to the profitability of the development project.  To this end, we have senior officers working progressively with NSIP promoters.  

But our experience is mixed and as much as some engagement has proven to be based on close collaboration and progressive discussions around evidenced thinking and design, as well as realistic timetables, some cases have been somewhat more speculative.  I say this meaning that we have had the merest level of detail at the outset and promoters have not meaningfully engaged with us.  In one case, the public launch was less than 24 hours after the project was first introduced to us, giving no time for officers to appraise elected Councillors never mind Parish Councils as representatives of their communities.  The proposal was a simple red edged location plan for solar development and covered a sizable area, including three corridors to connect the ‘site’ to the national grid.  I say ‘site’, but some of these solar proposals extend across significant geographical areas and interact with numerous communities, landscapes and environmental constraints.

There is understanding and support for the transition to net zero.  However, the ad hoc and unplanned nature of the solar NSIP proposals is less well understood and proves unwelcomed.  One reason for this is because there is no clear spatial strategy against which such proposals for onshore renewable energy generation, connection and transmission can be measured.  The scale of these forms of development can individually and collectively transform the cultural heritage and value of the countryside, the agricultural landscape and the setting of villages as well as occupy valuable higher grade best and most versatile agricultural land.  Lincolnshire is responsible for producing 12% of the country’s food supply, providing 24% of the county’s jobs and where 30% of the nation’s vegetables are produced.  In terms of recreation and tourism, in 2022 the visitor economy in North Kesteven generated £174.25m and supported over 2000 directed and indirect jobs and part of the attraction being the rurality, peace and openness of the countryside.  The visitor economy in 2022 was operating very close to its pre-pandemic level, and this welcome recovery and continued vitality of the sector is potentially compromised by the scale, coverage and cumulative impact of the placement of solar panels across the countryside.

Whilst the suite of energy National Policy Statements (NPSs) that came in to force on 17 January 2024 identifies how all energy related development proposals will be determined, there is no strategic spatial policy provided by the NPSs to assess whether we as a nation are seeking to build the right infrastructure in the right places to serve the evidenced need.  And in the absence of such a spatial strategy it is evident that there are inevitable inefficiencies and costs that are accrued.  In the simplest terms, producing renewable energy closer to its demand reduces the need for transmission infrastructure.  

Further, recognising that Lincolnshire offers higher levels of irradiance and topography suitable for solar developments, without a counter position offered by a spatial strategy component within the NPSs or even a threshold to guide the scale of generation expected in a locality, there is no effective way to seek to limit the attraction of the county for such development.  This then translates into developments that are having a profound effect on our agricultural heritage and activity, with the rural character and amenity of the landscape set to be transformed for many years.

We have engaged with the National Grid Electricity Transmission (NGET) seminars last year and directly with National Grid and would observe that the absence of a strategic approach is undoubtedly harming how we, at a national and a local level, can plan properly for the development of a decarbonised electricity supply by 2035 and transmit that energy around the country.  This absence of a strategy invites opposition rather than garnering the support that exists for local and national net zero ambitions.

Because of the duty to connect and the role the ‘Transmission Entry Capacity’ (TEC) Register of ‘contracted connection requests’, it is apparent that NGET is unable to effectively plan and deliver strategic outcomes through no fault of its own.  The scenario advised in last year’s seminar is that in the region in which Lincolnshire sits, the range being planned for is for a transmission network to meet a growth range of between 8.5GW and 28GW.  A significant proportion of this range is directly attributable to speculative bids that sit on the ‘TEC Register’ and that National Grid freely admit are unlikely ever to come forward – NGET referred to the contracted connections as being “more than we will ever need”.  This is not evidenced based planning or strategy making.  

There needs to be much more done to prohibit speculative schemes from being recorded on the register and diverting scarce resources to meeting needs that will in all probability not be delivered.  By 2035 NGET anticipate that c.70GW of renewable energy is required yet there are contracted connections for over 300GW and still growing.  A strategy that evidences and quantifies where the 70GW is best produced to meet the point of demand and shows how the transmission network could be developed would ensure resources are used to far better effect, ensure that schemes are only located where and when they are reasonably needed and where their impact will not have unacceptable adverse effects, and build higher levels of trust and understanding for proposals compared to the ad hoc approach now.  It would also provide a means to resist accumulations of solar schemes, as we have in North Kesteven, in Lincolnshire and on our borders, having such a pronounced impact upon our communities and our agricultural landscape.  The NPSs establish a national need and which is incapable of being questioned but in doing so this need is simply being used to justify each and every proposal leading to poorly reasoned and speculative development proposals and the TEC Register being massively oversubscribed.  A spatial strategy based on a projected need and not what is simply a ‘contracted connection’ identified on the TEC Register would allow a potential host community to ask the reasonable question of whether the need is best met by an individual proposal, a question that is in effect wholly unavailable to them at this time.

The introduction of the Independent System Operator and Planner during 2024 is noted; however, the ISOP will, it seems, have at best only a limited spatial strategy role and indeed the Regional System Planning role (which is not defined to include a spatial component) is listed as a future responsibility that the ISOP may have from 2025.  The need for a cogent spatial strategy is already evident and its absence is unhelpful in delivering the transition to net zero.  Such a spatial strategy should serve to direct the scale and location of development appropriately to the point of need and thereby limit the exposure of places such as Lincolnshire to an excessive number of solar energy proposals, and excessive to such an extent that they begin to harm the agricultural heritage, character and productivity of the county and its Districts.

Turning to the proposition for a sequential approach to prioritise the use of brownfield land and deployment of solar energy on existing buildings, it is recognised that there are inevitably practicalities and deliverability issues in terms of the location of such assets, their availability at scale to respond to the identified need and the prospects for an effective connection to the grid.  Nevertheless, again in the absence of a national framework including perhaps a call for sites, there is little to persuade host communities that sufficient effort is being made by Government to prioritise brownfield land and buildings in the interests of safeguarding the countryside and agriculture.  In this context, it is the Council’s position that the introduction of an effective sequential approach must be given serious consideration.

I would be very interested in hearing your views. 

Yours sincerely,

Chief Executive

Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities
Lee Rowley MP, Minister for Housing, Planning and Building Safety