'Please drive carefully through our solar park'
“Please drive carefully through our solar park” is how a quaint road sign read after villagers took matters into their own hands.
Irby in the marsh and close-by Bratoft could see two new solar farms built, if plans are put forward.
But residents in the East Lindsey villages felt drastic action was needed – and changed their own village sign in a plea for help.
Renewable energy company Juwi presented the initial plans to villagers on August 1.
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It was after two farmers in the village proposed turning their fields into solar panel farms.
If the plans are submitted, 200 acres of solar panels could be built.
It would be enough to power 5,600 homes.
But resident Kaye Rogers, 42, believes the proposals will swamp the two villages and the 80 houses they hold.
“Juwi Renewable Energies Limited held a consultation on August 1," she said.
“We find the parks quite controversial because they are basically either side of B1195, which sandwiches us between them,” she said.
“We are not against green energy, it just seems disproportionate for the space we are in and much of the land is prime agricultural ground.
“I can’t think of how it is benefiting this rural community at all.
“As soon as planning comes back we will have a public meeting and I think that will be a very raucous affair."
Ms Rogers says changing the sign was just to grab attention.
“There are so few of us that we need to kick up a stink and have some publicity," she added.
“The sign was torn down. Someone saw it taken down a few days after it was up.
“There is actually no damage to the sign at all; we made sure it could all be removed.
Richard Kidd, chairman of Firsby Group Parish Council said opinions are being taken from residents about the plans.
However they won't expect any planning application for the farms until at least September.
"As a council obviously we shall have to see the actual plans before we make a decision," Mr Kidd said.
"We appreciate their concern and obviously are looking into it. We have taken views and will make a decision when the plans receive the plans."
A spokesperson from juwi said the company plans to submit applications for the farms by the end of August.
"The sites will be very well screened by existing and proposed hedges.
"We believe it is important that our sites are good neighbours and we are offering substantial community benefits in the form of solar PV projects for the village or a cash equivalent lump sum that the parish council can use for worthy local projects.
"Solar farms can play a significant role in reducing our carbon emissions and independence from expensive imported fossil fuels."
Its spokesperson added: "At our recent public exhibition we received some really useful suggestions from local residents about extra screening hedges and places where we could set back further from houses.
"We are currently incorporating these into our designs."