Shropshire Star

Green Belt solar farm powering thousands of homes approved by councillors

A new solar farm powering 5,300 homes a year will be built on Green Belt land after the plans were approved.

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Solar farm approved on Green Belt land

A meeting of Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee heard the proposals for a site just outside Albrighton had been met with objections from local councillors and nearby businesses.

But councillors ultimately voted in favour of the scheme, saying the site would be well-screened and road safety concerns could be addressed.

Planning officers told the meeting the applicant, Boultbee Brooks (Renewables County Lane) Ltd, had demonstrated the “very special circumstances” required to build on the Green Belt.

However Sarah Dakin, who owns Wildwood Alpacas, said the solar farm would be a “gross intrusion” on local residents and her business.

Councillor Nigel Lumby, who represents Albrighton, also spoke against the application. He said: “My ward in the Green Belt will, if you approve this, have three large solar farms.

“There is a lack of Shropshire Council policy around solar farms within the Green Belt – probably because the starting point is that it’s inappropriate.”

Councillor Lumby said there were very few passing points on the access road that would be large enough for construction vehicles while the site is being built.

He added that the UK’s food security was in decline and this should prevent unnecessary development on agricultural land.

Nick Barber, from Boultbee Brooks, said the company was investing £11.5 million in the site, which would generate 72 temporary construction jobs and five permanent jobs.

Mr Barber also said the firm would establish a community fund of £10,000 a year for the 40-year life of the panels, to benefit local residents.

Other benefits, he said, including the planting of an orchard and ensuring a biodiversity “net gain” across the site.

Councillors Hilary Luff and Tony Parsons said they were concerned about the narrowness of the access road for construction traffic.

Councillor Parsons added: “I also understand the local member’s frustration about this being the third application for a solar farm in a fairly small area of his ward.”

Councillor Robert Tindall said it was a “difficult” decision, but proposed approval of the application subject to extra conditions.

Planning permission was granted with five votes for and three against.