Bercow: Solar farm plan will industrialise historic landscape

John Bercow
John Bercow

The House has risen for the summer recess and, although my office remains open, the steady stream of letters, emails and phone calls has dropped off slightly of late.

I’m hoping that this is because Buckingham constituency residents are either off abroad on holiday or enjoying the wonderful weather we’re – unusually – experiencing here in Britain at the moment.

Whether or not it was the unseasonable warmth that persuaded a developer that a massive solar panel farm in Ilmer, just outside Princes Risborough, would be a good idea, I cannot tell.

Along with local residents, however, I am steadfastly against the plan.

Ilmer is a rural village which boasts a 12th century church and arable farmland that has been tended since the Domesday Book, if not earlier.

The proposal to build a solar farm of 110 acres in this setting is nothing less than a wanton destruction of local amenity, heritage and the environment.

If approved, the site will require fourteen concrete outbuildings, CCTV masts, light masts, increased local traffic and the industrialisation of a beautiful natural landscape.

To be clear: I have nothing against renewable energy developments per se.

However, and in the words of my Parliamentary colleague and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, new planning guidance “makes it clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections and the views of local communities should be listened to.”

There is absolutely no way that dumping this development in the middle of such a small and picturesque village would be in keeping with these sentiments, and I hope that Wycombe District Council take on board our objections and refuse the application.

As for my plans for the summer, I will be getting away with my family in the next couple of weeks or so, but for the moment I’m using the start of the summer recess to catch up on various bits of constituency work before everything switches up a gear in September.

May I take this opportunity to wish all readers the best for a relaxing summer break.