News & Updates

Oliver Heald - MP for North East Hertfordshire

Oliver Heald MP - Statement on Topham’s Solar Proposal

“I have been taking a close interest in the PACE proposal to develop a solar plant on the 147 acre Topham’s Field since it was first announced in 2021.  Given the position of Topham’s field, I am not convinced that this represents an appropriate site.  Not only would it be visible from the scheduled ancient monument of Arbury Banks, the site is high-grade agricultural land in open undulating country and the plant would be visible for miles around.

Of course, we need more renewable energy production to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. However, this must not come at the cost of our environment and countryside.  There are many more appropriate sites for solar farms in North Hertfordshire and elsewhere. So, I urge PACE to think again. 

I commend the Bygrave Action Group for taking the initiative on behalf of their community; they have my full support.”

Steve Jarvis - County Councillor for Royston West

“Whilst there is no doubt that we need to get more of our energy from renewable sources and that solar farms can make a significant contribution to this that does not mean that they can just be put anywhere. There are plenty of locations where they can be built – on the roofs of some of the massive warehouse that now exist alongside many motorways, or in areas that are already impacted by development – without resorting to sites like the one that PACE are proposing.

A solar farm development on a north facing slope in an area of otherwise unspoiled countryside is simply the wrong location. There is no way in which such a development can be screened with tree planting or hedging given the topography of the site, even if screening made it acceptable.

There are better places which are more than capable of meeting our sustainable energy needs without these impacts, so I am pleased to support the Bygrave Action Group’s campaign against this proposal.”

Steve Jarvis - County Councillor for Royston West
Tom Tyson - District Councillor

Tom Tyson - District Councillor

“The climate emergency is real. We need to move away from fossil fuels and adopt alternative, renewable energy sources as quickly as possible – a serious challenge, but one to which the PACE proposal is an opportunistic and ill-considered response.

The Tophams Field site is a highly visible and attractive part of an important local landscape: the North Baldock Chalk Uplands. Because of the way the field slopes, no amount of perimeter hedging will be able to conceal the huge solar plant from view and it will be an eyesore for forty years or more

It is also valuable high-quality agricultural land and should not be converted to industrial use, especially as we’re becoming more aware than ever of the importance of domestic food production.

Solar farms should be sited sensitively to fit discreetly within the local landscape, away from villages and well-travelled country roads, and not on the best quality farmland. The PACE proposal fails on these counts, so I support the Bygrave Action Group’s campaign: right idea, wrong place.”

Philip Hills - Chairman of Bygrave Parish Council

“Bygrave is a small village within a farming rural landscape.

The proposals for the installation of the solar farm are to utilise high grade agricultural land, thus preventing the use of 147 acres for the ever-increasing need for growing crops.

The edges of this proposed solar farm border

  • to the south blighting a number of dwellings in the village: 
  • to the west beside the ancient Icknield Way:
  • the North in the view of the scheduled ancient monument of Arbury Banks:
  • Additionally this highly visible undulating area of beautiful countryside will be surrounded by high fencing with security cameras and the proposals will remove the rural pursuits of walkers and horse riders and will destroy habitats of birds and animals.

This village deserves some consideration as we are threatened with losing our identity:

  • On the east side adjacent the A505 there is a Biomass anaerobic digester that was promised to have no impact on the village. Fact:  this plant issues the most obnoxious odours that do reach the village.
  • On the South side between Baldock and Bygrave there is still the possibility of an estate of some 3000 houses. These could be built on what was known as Bygrave Common.
  • With this proposed solar farm the village will literally be bounding the edge of an industrial area

Yes solar power is important, as we move away from fossil fuel, but panels ideally should be built in inconspicuous locations; brown field sites or roofs of industrial buildings.

The Parish Council believes that this proposed site is totally unsuitable and defies a number of recognised guidance documents.”

Philip Hills

Chairman Bygrave Parish Council