Donkeys against Balsall Common solar farm plans - The Solihull Observer

Donkeys against Balsall Common solar farm plans

Solihull Editorial 2nd Nov, 2023   0

A HERD of donkeys are kicking off as plans to turn greenbelt land in Balsall Common into a solar farm have been put forward.

Campaigners, including a not for profit donkey therapy organisation, have voiced concerns over an application for the construction of Holly Lane Energy Park, a large solar farm and battery storage units, on Meer End.

Exagen Developments has put forward the application to both Solihull Council and Warwick District Council, as the site straddles the boundaries of both districts.

The company says the site would create enough energy to power up to 11,000 homes a year and would export to the grid for up to 40 years.

Sue Stait from The Donkey’s has slammed the application, saying the solar farm will impact its donkeys and diminish their therapeutic impact.

The Holly Lane organisation, run by Sue and Ian Mulingani, opened a year ago due to demand from health workers – but donkeys have lived on the land for 10 years.

The not-for-profit group offers donkey walking, grooming and therapy to people with mental health issues, including anxiety and physical disabilities, in Solihull, Knowle, Shirley and the surrounding areas.

Sue said: “Should this project be approved, then during construction the donkeys will be exposed to noise and heavy vehicle movements.

“This will make the donkeys’ responses unpredictable meaning that rather than the experiences with donkeys taking place in a countryside environment, the experiences will not be able to take place at all during construction.

“I fear that if this development goes ahead and the donkeys’ field on Holly Lane is surrounded by solar panels, then we will have no alternative but to close down as I cannot see people wanting to walk donkeys in an area surrounded by security fencing and thousands of solar panels.”

Campaign group No Solar Here has listed a number of reasons against the application, including the scale of the site, and suggests other sites could be used in the area that are not in the greenbelt or on farm land.

In planning documents, Exagen said: “Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Warwick District Council have both formally declared a climate emergency with targets in place to deliver net zero in their respective areas.

“The Holly Lane Energy Park will make a hugely significant contribution to this.

“Each year the project will generate approximately 35,000MWh of clean electricity, the equivalent consumption of 11,00 homes, and will have up to a 75MW capacity battery which enables greater deployment of intermittent clean renewable energy, reducing our reliance on natural gas and coal for reactive power.”


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