Second solar farm plan looms in south Shropshire

An Edinburgh-based company is in talks with Shropshire Council to build a second and larger solar farm on a controversial site near Ludlow.

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

Locogen Consulting is seeking council planners' opinions on whether they will need to include a costly environmental impact assessment with any future planning application for the site off Squirrel Lane, in Ledwyche.

At this stage it is a technical assessment by planners and their advisors, with a planning application possibly following. But councillors are already considering the pros and cons.

A first solar farm in a neighbouring field was only approved by a Government inspector after a planning battle.

Councillor Richard Huffer is Shropshire Councillor for Clee and his division includes the proposed solar farm site. He said: “We need renewable energy to meet tackle the climate emergency. The question with all such facilities is where they are located.

“There is a difficult balance to strike between creating new facilities to generate power and protecting the countryside that is so important to Shropshire residents and the visitor economy.

“Planners and councils will need to look closely at that landscape impact of this proposal, particularly because it is so close to the AONB.

“If this is approved, there will need to be strict control over construction traffic. It must access the site via Henley and the A4117. There must be no construction traffic over Ledwyche bridge, which was badly damaged at the time of construction of the last solar farm.”

A site for a second solar farm has been identified near Ludlow

At around 21 hectares the solar farm could generate electricity to supply around 2,800 homes and avoid around 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year.

But fellow Lib Dem councillor, Andy Boddington, said if approved it will be on good quality agricultural land and could also destroy 0.5km of biodiverse hedgerow. The company does not believe the scheme will require an EIA and council officers are working to a deadline of November 10 to make a decision.

The photovoltaic panels would not stop the land being used for low intensity grazing but planners will have to consider whether there will be an impact on the views of the site.

The company points out that the two solar farms would be separate and visually contained by surrounding hedges and tree belts and would be "unlikely to have any significant cumulative impacts from surrounding view points.”

Councillor Boddington said: "That statement will need to be tested when a planning application is submitted as is it obvious that from more distant viewpoints, the two schemes will merge into one in a viewer’s eyes."

The application for an EIA can be viewed on the Shropshire Council website using the reference number 21/04904/SCR

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