Delight as solar farms rejected

Campaigners have hailed a decision to throw out plans for two major solar farms in the Shropshire countryside as a “victory for democracy”.

Cheers and applause filled the room at Shrewsbury’s Shirehall as not one, but two solar farm proposals were rejected by Shropshire Council’s south planning committee, after months of campaigning by opponents.

Both a 54-acre solar farm at Henley Bank, Acton Scott, and 43-acres of panels at Whitton, near Ludlow, were refused planning permission after hours of debate, despite being recommended for approval by Shropshire Council’s planning officers.

Yesterday it was standing room only in the council chamber as dozens packed in to hear the verdict on the plans.

Many of the objectors had staged protests at site visits, and outside Shirehall, earlier in the day.

Peter van Duijvenvoorde, chairman of campaign group Save South Shropshire Countryside, said: “As you can see from the reaction here, we’re delighted at the council’s rejection of these rotten schemes.

“It has renewed my faith in democracy and the effects of local opinion.

“This has been a real team effort and without us working together we wouldn’t have got this result.

“This is not just a victory for Whitton, but for Acton Scott.

“It’s not just about one community, it’s about preserving the countryside.”

The Acton Scott proposal was turned down by councillors on the grounds that it was within the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Jamie Wrench, vice chairman of Stretton Climate Care, spoke in favour of the scheme.

He said the area was a working agricultural landscape of which the solar farm would be only a small part, and it would generate enough electricity to power a significant part of Church Stretton.

Andrew Bower, speaking on behalf of applicants Maddox and Associates, said “I don’t believe anybody can find a better screened suitable site in this part of Shropshire.”

He said £59,000 would be pumped back into the community over 20 years if the scheme went ahead.

But committee member Councillor Robert Tindall said: “ I believe by allowing this go ahead we are driving a coach and horses through the AONB.”

Councillor Cecilia Motley said: “We cannot avoid the fact that this is slap bang in the middle of it.”

Councillor Andy Boddington and Nigel Hartin agreed the scheme had benefits, but could not support it because of the visual impact in such a sensitive area.

The Whitton plans were unanimously refused after 179 objections were submitted to the council.

Guy Maxfield, speaking for applicants EBS Energy LLP, said it was not within any designated “sensitive landscape”.

However, Councillor Tindall said it was still on the border of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the plans were industrial in nature and size.

Councillor Boddington said there were some concessions to wildlife, but not on a par with the plans for Acton Scott – and importantly the land was not poor quality farmland, but good quality acerage.

Mr van Duijvenvoorde said campaigners would be focussing on a decision on another proposed solar farm at Tasley, near Bridgnorth, next.

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Comments for: "Delight as solar farms rejected"

Slope

As I said in a recent item about this subject, the planners will weigh everything up and make a decision. And that's exactly what they've done. That's democracy at work.

What's concerning is that Mr van Duijvenvoorde appears to be mobilising his band of merry men and women and creating some kind of roving "rent an objection" gang who will campaign against any solar development simply because it's a solar development.

ann53

It was the planners who recommended it...the planning committee rejected it.This group was set up to fight applications in South Shropshire.Sadly there are so many outstanding applications for solar farms coming up to the planning committe stage in the next few weeks...just to avoid missing the cuts to the feed in tariff.Here in North Telford there seems to be no appetite for fighting these solar farms(Wrockwardine nr old beet factory is presently at the consultation stage.)Perhaps this is because the locals have lost any hope in the planning process given the number of housing battles they are fighting and how local democracy does not seem to work for them.Having attended many planning committee meetings with TWC the decisions usually comes down to party lines.

Slope

Semantics. Planners = planning process. I accept I could have been clearer.

mutuality

Let's hope there is protestors delight next Friday 24th October at Shirehall when the planning decision is made on Dudleston Heath (Say No to fracking)

Ask yourselves this question...do you really want the landscape to be blighted, environmental degradation to take place eg contamination of aquifers/water supply, noise/air pollution, health concerns, animal welfare issues, houses prices to be devalued in the area all for drilling, boring in the ground for coal methane (harmful)?

Stop, think, be objective, think ahead, implications, consequences...

ann53

You should pressurize scc to make the planning committee meeting available online/live.....many local authorities do this now.Tried with Twc...but they said they had no budget for it!If councillers realize they are being filmed/recorded they might be more accountable.

Plato

Regardless of how many members of the public are watching, either in person or maybe on line, the Councillors do not have carte blanche to do whatever they want. They have to decide planning appeals according to the laws of the planning system, and the national and local policies which apply to the application.

If they take a contrary view to the Officer recommendation, having studied the papers, taken into account representations for and against, they have to be able to cite the planning reasons why something should be approved/rejected, and be able to back that up with the evidence which will be quoted if the decision is refusal and it goes to appeal.

If they simply say "we back the people who don't want this so we will refuse it", or if they cannot come up with compelling reasons, then not only will they lose at an appeal, but costs running into hundreds of thousands of pounds could be assessed against the council.

Mr Majestic

Good news, unfortunately as with what is happening nationally with most planning applications etc which are refused they will be over turned on appeal .

Mr Majestic

Whats happened to the application for a solar farm on pitchford estate???

ann53

Pending consideration

Mr.Mr

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

The Shadow

Clearly all the objectors have missed the point about renewable energy....

Time to get a grip and modernise we do not live in the 80's anymore, and this type of thing is needed moving forward.

I suspect they will no doubt be the same bunch who try to object to the Northern Relief Road, which will go ahead regardless.

Llandy

I think you might be the one missing the point. Renewables like solar and wind are not the way forward. They are intermittent, unreliable, expensive and an eyesore. The only thing that they are good at generating is money for their developers, their shareholders and the landowners - and that costs the rest of us over £100 each per year.

The Shadow

Ok so coal, oil and gas is or shall we chuck all eggs in one basket and just go with nuclear energy? Solar, wind and water is in abundance and you will be the first to complain when the lights go out this winter. Eye sore or not they won't take up all green space you know that and so does everyone else. The people who regard it as an eyesore are the golden generation stuck in the 80's hopping for a quiet retirement the way they have always done things.

We live in modern times and we need to move forward with modern times. Ever seen the film Mad Max? Watch it and thing about how they managed without fuel....

mutuality

A contradiction. So IGas...Dart Energy don't generate money for the developers, shareholders and landowners?

And you think that shale gas and coal bed methane exploration is the way forward....remember think, engage brain first....getting the machinary and equipment into place along narrow country lanes (cannot be airlifted in)....noise/air pollution, health concerns for nearby residents, smell, glow of the orange burner, contamination of water supply...there is an aquifer running straight underneath the proposed site, house prices being devalued yes an eyesore as you put it. Even the National Trust are against it...and wait for it an admittance that it does not make enough profit! Scotland's renewable energy from wind farms/turbines (onshore and offshore)...wave/tidal and yes solar stands at an incredible 30%....we have a lot of catching up to do.

Mr Majestic

And your argument is right because? Usually those who are for , are not affected by such developments.

Slope

Neither are those against. Unless Mr van Duijvenvoorde and his merry troupe all live close to all of the developments they've campaigned or are planning to campaign against.

The Shadow

No one living by it will be affected though that's the point the objectors just assume they will. How will solar panels affect the daily life of any person? Electrical hum static, noise from machinery etc etc.... No none of this. All they are moaning about is a the sight of a few solar panels in a field doing no harm to anyone or anything. No pollution, no traffic no nothing. Solar energy is a way forward. How many of those objectors agree that we should plus the skies full of smog from coal and gas constantly hmmmmm....