Shropshire Star

Planning inspector 'could decide on solar farm plans near Ludlow'

Two planning applications for solar farms near Ludlow could be determined by a planning inspector, a local councillor has said.

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Richard Huffer and Jon Reardon-Smith at the field nearest Squirrel Lane

Shropshire Council's southern planning committee this week refused planning permission for a solar farm at Ledwyche and deferred a decision on a larger one at Greete, after the applicant's managing director agreed to see whether the better grade farmland could be taken out of the plans.

Following the meeting, Councillor Richard Huffer, whose area includes both sites, said he was certain the Ledwyche solar farm would go to appeal.

“I’m a farmer and I’ve farmed land over much of this area. The land on which the solar farm would be sited is good land and has been giving a good yield for crops," he said.

“I am certain that this will go to appeal. That will allow the planning inspector to rule on whether generating electricity from renewables on the best quality land is more important than growing food."

Councillor Huffer said he was surprised a decision was not made on the Greete solar farm.

“Again, this is good quality farmland, though not consistently the best," he said.

"Some members of the committee focused on that, arguing that it would all be treated as lower quality land by farmers. That’s not the case. The farmer would simply apply more fertiliser to poorer quality land and, these days the amount applied is adjusted automatically by sprayers guided by GPS.

“I’d be surprised if the promoter came back with a significantly different plan for the solar farm. I believe they would be more likely to appeal on the basis that Shropshire Council has failed to determine the application."