Fears for health of alpaca herd over Ludlow solar farm plan
Pam Smith's herd of alpacas are her pride and joy. The 37 animals live in paddocks at the family farm at Squirrel Lane on the edge of Ludlow, happy in the rolling Shropshire countryside.
But the threat of a solar farm being built on the other side of the hedge to the animals has been met with despair by Mrs Smith and her husband, Chris.
The couple say glare from solar panels on the proposed 22,000-panel solar farm on Henley Hall Estate could harm the herd, which produces prized wool, and the family ambition to develop their farm as a visitor attraction.
German renewable energy firm Kronos Solar, has applied for planning permission for the 32-acre site. Mrs Smith said research had shown that if the animals were unable to escape glare from the panels it could cause them to suffer high levels of nervousness and other problems.
"A report from the company claims this was not applicable at this site," she said. "However, those assessing the site must have seen the alpacas – they are not easy to miss.
"We've asked whether they will be any screening put between the solar farm and our land and have been told no.
We have plans for perhaps a cafe, an eco-friendly visitor centre and a shop. This development may put those plans in jeopardy."
Peter van Duijvenvoorde, chairman of the Save South Shropshire Hills campaign group, which is fighting large scale solar farms
said the group was concerned that the land at Henley Hall was better agricultural soil that samples taken by consultants for Kronos Solar suggested.
"The land has been used for agriculture for as long as anyone can remember. Why aren't these companies putting solar panels on brownfield sites, or roofs?" he said.