Solar farm decision delayed
A decision on a scheme to put thousands of solar panels next to a village recreation ground has been deferred to enable Sport England to comment on the project.
The controversial scheme by Freetricity involves converting nearly 17 acres of farmland on the outskirts of Stoke Golding, near Hinckley.
If approved, the solar farm would generate enough energy to power more than 600 homes.
But the proposal is opposed by hundreds of people who have signed a petition and written protest letters to Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council.
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Residents are concerned about the impact on the community and of the possible problems should cricketers hit balls into the development, smashing panels.
On Tuesday, more than 60 residents packed the public gallery when members of the planning committee agreed to defer the application until next month.
The protestors have formed Stoke Golding Concerned Residents' Action Group (SGCRAG).
SGCRAG spokeswoman Jane White said: "We now have time to make sure Sport England is consulted and we will be demanding a proper landscape and visual impact assessment is carried out.
"It is frightening to think that, had this development been agreed, work would start immediately to erect nearly 8,000 solar panels next to the recreation ground, so we are very relieved."
SGCRAG said Sport England was not aware of the application until they informed them before the weekend.
She said the local cricket club was particularly worried about the costs it could incur if its balls damaged the panels, as batsmen regularly hit them over the fence.
The group has also criticised screening proposals submitted by the developers to try to hide the 8ft security fences that will surround the 16.8 acre site.
Ms White said: "SGCRAG will be making sure all these issues are properly addressed and will be making sure the villagers are kept informed of further developments."
The proposal was opposed by county councillor Ivan Ould and district councillor Michael Mullaney.
MP David Tredinnick also voiced strong reservations about the scheme after meeting residents who were strongly opposed to it.
However, 11 people had written letters supporting the scheme
Nicholas Prinse, from Freet-ricity, would not comment on the decision to defer the application.
But a spokesman for the company told the council in its planning application: "The siting of the panels has been carefully selected, taking into account buildings nearby and a generally small minority of residents who may dislike the appearance of this particular type of solar panel."
The committee, which had been recommended to approve the scheme by its officers, will now discuss the project on February 19.