The Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has urged the Prime Minister to reject a solar farm plan in Ryedale.

The TFA has asked Rishi Sunak to lend his support to tenant farmers, Rob and Emma Sturdy, and reject a proposal to install a solar farm and battery energy storage system on a 52.86 hectares of farm land at Old Malton.

In addition, the TFA has also written to every member of the North Yorkshire Strategic Planning Committee urging them to acknowledge the concerns that have been expressed about this development and vote against the proposed application, submitted by the Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation.

The Committee will consider the application at its meeting on the 10 October at Ryedale House in Malton. The Planning Officer has recommended approval.

The TFA has been in close consultation with the Sturdy’s, who hold an agricultural tenancy over Eden Farm, within which 44.52 hectares of the 52.86 hectares of land earmarked for this development sits. This represents just under half of the land subject to their agricultural tenancy.

TFA Chief Executive, George Dunn, said: "It would be a travesty if this application was allowed to succeed. Acceptance of this application would go against current public policy on food security, maintaining best and most versatile agricultural land, improving landscape and biodiversity, and protecting the resilience of the tenanted sector of agriculture.”

The Sturdy’s, who are TFA members, have farmed at Eden Farm for over 30 years. Their tenancy is regulated under the terms of the Agricultural Holdings Act 1986. This gives them lifetime security and the right to pass on their tenancy to two further generations. One succession of tenancy has already occurred and a further opportunity for succession remains available.

“Long standing industry approved guidance exists for how landlords should consult with tenants in circumstances where the landlord desires to seek consent for change of use.

A report to the committee said: "The proposal is expected to be capable of providing energy for the equivalent of 8,660 homes - this means the scheme could supply the average annual electricity needs of

38% of the households in former Ryedale District Council area, based on the number of households totalling 22,500. The proposed development would result in carbon savings of just over 12,500 tonnes per year.

"The proposal has already secured a connection to the National Grid and is capable of being completed relatively quickly."

The report added that a large number of objections have been received from members of the public,along with Malton Town Council, however, no objections from statutory consultees

It added: "Having regard to the overall planning balance the development is found to be sustainable and in the public interest. Approval is recommended subject to conditions."