Major countryside solar farm planned for Wakefield could become a target for crime gangs
West Yorkshire Police has raised concerns that criminals could raid the remote site to steal solar panels and copper cabling.
The force made the comments in a response to a planning application to install panels across 133 acres of greenbelt land at Overton, Middlestown, New Hall and Grange Moor.
The proposals include building 2m-high sections of ‘deer fencing’ around the site with CCTV cameras in a bid to deter thieves.
Lisa Reardon, a ‘designing out crime officer’ for the Wakefield district, said the security measures may not be enough.
In a document submitted to Wakefield Council, she said: “The concern is that there have been crimes across the county that have specifically targeted solar farms, whereby organised crime groups or individuals will target sites for copper cabling, cable reels when the site is under construction, and in some cases steal the solar panels.”
‘Solar crime’ incidents are on the rise in the UK, with police data showing a 48 per cent increase in solar panel and cabling theft from 2021 to 2022.
Ms Reardon added: “The fence type proposed can easily be breached by cutting through the mesh, whereby any strangers/potential offenders can gain access.
“The gate can be climbed and the wooden base for the CCTV camera can easily be cut down/vandalised.”
The force has requested more information about security measures at the site.
The officer said: “Whilst there is no objection in principle to the proposal, further information is required on the site layouts, boundaries, position of lighting and CCTV, and exactly what security measures will be put into place to help reduce crime opportunities.”
Almost 450 people have objected to the application by energy firm Boom Power since it was submitted to the council last month.
The council has received 36 comments of support in favour of the scheme.
The Save the Sitlington Countryside group was formed by residents when the project was revealed last year.
Opponents claim it will turn one of the most picturesque areas of the city into an “industrial landscape”.
Boom Power has already been granted permission by Kirklees Council to build a solar farm nearby on 210 acres of land at Flockton.
A third application to access the National Grid on land near to Horbury Bridge has also been approved.
The company says the proposal would provide a sustainable form of electricity and will also make a valuable contribution to the generation of electricity at a local level.