Campaigners step up opposition to solar farm

Protestors against the solar farm
Hundreds of people are campaigning against plans to build a solar panel farm near Darlington [BBC]

Campaigners have stepped up efforts against plans to build a solar farm which they claim will devastate their community.

Residents near Darlington, County Durham, are opposed to the planned Byers Gill Solar Farm, which could power 70,000 homes if approved.

Those campaigning against the plans say they will be "completely surrounded" by panes if the farm is built.

Energy firm RWE said it is committed to "robust public engagements" before it finalises its plans.

Under the proposals, the panels will be installed in Brafferton, Hauxley Farm, Byers Gill Wood, Great Stainton and at two sites near Bishopton.

Locals began campaigning against the plans in 2022 when they heard rumours of RWE – then JBM Solar – setting up a meeting with landowners, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

'Surrounded by black glass'

"It’s like a bomb has gone off for us," said campaigner Jacqueline Stephens

"Every aspect of our lives are going to be affected."

Many homes in Great Stainton provide views of Tees Valley but those objecting to the plans say the views would be obstructed by the solar panels.

"We just hate the idea we’re going to be surrounded by black glass and our lives are going to be disrupted and more dangerous," added Ms Stephens.

More than 600 people have now backed the campaigners’ appeal and the group claims 98% of people in the area are against the plans.

Michael Baker, project manager for Byers Gill Solar, said: "The approach taken to the design of the project has been shaped and influenced by the local landscape, and with local communities and their enjoyment of the local area in mind."

He added the height of the solar panels has been reduced and the panels have been moved further away from homes.

The solar farm proposal will be determined by the government at a later date.

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