Public must be consulted about solar farm scheme

Police at the scene in Link Street, Hackney, east London after a man in his 20s died after being stabbed. Picture: Press Association

CLIVE SMITH: People are dying, so to hell with political correctness

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So the issue of the proposed solar farm in Fareham has raised its head once again. It’s an interesting argument that has provoked strong debate on either side. Is it a great way of ‘protecting’ the green fields from housing development by putting thousands of solar panels on the land and thus creating ‘green’ energy?

Or, as some critics say, will it simply be a blot on the landscape which will in fact set a precedent for building in the green gap in the future?

Whatever your view, the plain fact of the matter is that Fareham Borough Council should be consulting its residents fully on the matter.

That doesn’t mean sending out 13 letters to neighbours of the proposed site.

Given its rural nature, the area isn’t immediately surrounded by thousands of homes.

But planning protocols should be thrown out the window when it comes to such an important issue that can split public opinion.

Why hasn’t the council done more to spread the word, offer up debate, ask its people what it thinks?

As campaigner Julie Harding says: ‘I think this is a bigger issue than just Stubbington – it affects Gosport, Fareham and Lee-on-the-Solent.

‘They need to know.’

Council leader Sean Woodward has addressed the situation and agreed to look into the matter, with the possibility more letters will be sent out.

If he wants an idea of the huge public interest in the scheme he should try reading our letters page which over the past few weeks has featured many people in support of the plan, with almost an equal number against it.

It’s a tough one to call. Yes, we desperately need to look at the way we collect and use energy in the future.

But at the same time we need to protect our countryside for generations to come.

The councillors sitting on Fareham’s planning committee will have a tough time deciding the application. But please make sure you consult the public well in advance so they understand the reasons behind your decision.