Derbyshire tenanted farm could 'disappear forever' for solar panel development

Andrew Dakin featured on the Farmers Guardian podcast this week to discuss the intention of his landlord's intention to sell his farm from to a solar development - leaving him without a livelihood and the job he has loved all of his life

clock • 4 min read
Derbyshire tenant farmer Andrew Dakin said he was determined to fight his case until the very end to keep Kidsley Park Farm in existence
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Derbyshire tenant farmer Andrew Dakin said he was determined to fight his case until the very end to keep Kidsley Park Farm in existence

A Derbyshire tenant farmer's way of life and livelihood could ‘disappear forever' if plans go forward to take his land out of production for solar panels.

Andrew Dakin, a third generation tenant at Kidsley Park Farm in Smalley, said he had been ‘devastated' to find out of his landlord's intention in May 2023 to sell the farm to a solar development. 

Amber Valley Borough Council has received one of two applications for neighbouring solar farms north of Derby and Smalley, on greenbelt land, which would sit 500m apart and cover an area of 328 acres.

The council is considering if the solar panels - proposed by a firm called Intelligent Alternatives - could have a 'significant effect on the environment'.

Facing the daunting' prospect of having his livelihood stripped away to make way from a 180 solar farm, Mr Dakin said he has been left at his 'lowest ebb' by his landlord's decision.

"Farming is part of my blood and like most farmers, I have lived and breathed the industry since I was a little boy," the Derbyshire farmer added.

"To think that I could no longer perform the job of running the farm for the past 44 years like I have is soul destroying.

"Our family has been both loyal and hardworking to the land but to have that trust broken with the landlord has been painful to take.

Farmers Guardian podcast - Andrew Dakin: "I face eviction from my Derbyshire tenant farm for solar panels"

"Solar panels are alien to farming and it could have long-term consequences for what our countryside will become a barren site for .

"My way of farming has helped to protect our beautiful landscape in Derbyshire and the surrounding wildlife.

"Kidsley Park Farm has been in my family for over 94 years and I fully intend to keep it in my family for the next 100 years."

Mr Dakin has been fighting back against the planning application since November and fully intends to win the case to fight his farm despite being offered compensation.

"It should not have to be a case where I have to fight to keep my farm but this is where it has ended," he added.

"I have been offered a three-figure sum but no money can ever take me away from the land.

Tenanted sector diversification 'at the whim of the landlord'

"I have had many sleepless nights and the situation has affected my health and well-being.

"Farmers need long-term security or else we could see a wasted opportunity where young people just do not want to face the volatility which being a tenant farming can bring.

"But I will fight to my very last breath to keep on farming."

Amy Wheelton, a tenant farmer and Seales District councillor, who also sits on South Derbyshire District Council's planning committee, said she had been concerned by the number of applications being made in the county to replace farms with solar panels.

She added: "You can have farmers that have been here like Mr Dakin for three generations, who have invested heavily into their businesses, and like that, it is gone.

"There is no security of tenure and it is just wrong."

Matt McGuinness, a parish councillor in Amber Valley, said it was wrong to 'impose' solar panels on an area without any regard for the community in terms of its people, businesses, wildlife and people's way of life in relation to the proposed solar farm in Smalley.

George Dunn, chief executive of the Tenant Farmers Association, said farmers had been losing their businesses ‘for a pittance' in terms of compensation and called for a national database of solar scheme to illustrate the ‘scale' of the problem.

"The TFA are worried that food security is being damaged by the amount of land we are potentially going to see lost to solar schemes," he added.

"We would much prefer this being put on to roofs of buildings and farm buildings and having microgeneration rather than these huge schemes taking the best and most versatile agricultural land out of production."

When approached for comment by the Farmers Guardian, The Locko Estate, Mr Dakin's landlord, said they did not wish to discuss a private matter.

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