Selby’s council leader has urged housing and communities secretary Michael Gove to consider the impact two large solar farm projects will have on the district.

Planning applications for a handful of major energy projects are in the pipeline around the border of North Yorkshire and the East Riding due to its rural geography and proximity to Drax Power Station.

Senior Selby councillors were discussing the proposed East Yorkshire Solar Farm, a 1,173 hectare (2,898 acres) project on several patches of land north-west of Howden, which will connect to Drax, at a meeting of the council’s executive committee.

It comes after concerns were raised towards the end of last year about the “dramatic” impact the Helios Renewable Energy project will have on 758 hectares (1,873 acres) of farmland between the villages of Camblesforth and Hirst Courtney.

Both are classed as nationally significant infrastructure projects and are subject to approval by the Planning Inspectorate and Secretary of State for Levelling up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove.

Selby District Council leader Cllr Mark Crane said the sites, if approved, would be the largest two solar farms in the country.

He added: “One of my concerns about solar farms is, where they’re being built particularly on grade one and two agricultural land, we do lose a significant amount for the growing of crops.

“Whilst I fully appreciate it’s important that when I go home of an evening, I want to turn the lights on, it’s also important that we can feed ourselves.

“These two solar farms, if they were repeated in places across the country, would have a significant impact on our ability to grow our own food.”

Council officers said provisional assessments of the East Yorkshire Solar Farm land had shown it was not of the highest grade, but that further information was needed.

Cllr Crane added: “We are concerned about the cumulative impacts of all these applications and it’s one of the things that I hope the Secretary of State considers when it goes to him, because it’s not just the two solar farms – it is the battery storage etcetera – and it will have a big visual and actual impact on this district and on the East Riding.”

Deputy leader Cllr Richard Musgrave said: “It’s inevitable we’re going to get a lot of these types of applications in this area given the geography and the proximity to the grid.

“I would like to think they were picking the worst agricultural land to put the solar farms on and keeping the best agricultural land for agricultural production, but maybe that’s being a bit naive.”

Selby council officers will submit their comments on both projects before planning applications are lodged.

Public inquiries will then be held before final approval is sought from the Government.

Construction on the East Yorkshire project would not be expected to start until the end of 2024 and could take up to two years to complete.

Head of planning Mark Grainger said: “This is going to be a decision for the Secretary of State to make. What is important is that Selby Council, in its responses to these statutory stages and through the application process, correctly raises those issues that matter to the people in this district and beyond.”