THE GREEN light has been given for a giant solar farm roughly the size of 100 football pitches to be built on Stratford’s doorstep.
Back in February an application was submitted for a proposed 50MW site at Drayton Manor Farm, which would be large enough to power more than 14,000 homes – or the equivalent of the entire town.
Potentially the biggest solar farm south Warwickshire has ever seen, designs for the 96-hectare site off the Alcester Road included the installation of up to 200,000 solar panels.
Previously used by DEFRA for research – including the housing of animals with BSE between 1998 and 2006 – the site was bought by the Wood family, who own farms in Worcestershire, after it became surplus to requirements.
Although the land was not classed as greenbelt, they said it could not be used for any kind of farming, which would enter the animal or human food chain, for the foreseeable future with renewable energy being the only way forward.
Officers on Stratford District Council had recommended the application be granted subject to a number of conditions.
And despite reservations about the scale of the project, members of the authority’s planning committee voted in favour of the application – granting the farm a temporary 25 year permission – at a meeting on Wednesday evening (June 3).
Director Stephen Wood told The Observer: “Solar farms with such a capacity are rare in the UK and the land is ideally suited given the restrictions on agriculture, power lines crossing overhead and the energy demands of a growing Stratford.
“The government and district council encourage renewable energy and this will greatly contribute to the generation of renewable energy in the district.”
But plans to build 155 homes near Anne Hathaway’s cottage in Shottery were unanimously refused at the same meeting.
Gladman Developments were hoping to build the homes on a site at Bordon Hill on land north of Evesham Road.
The site is near to where 800 homes were granted permission back in 2012 after government minister Eric Pickles overturned Stratford District Council’s original decision to reject the proposals.
Coun Peter Moorse had previously raised concerns the plans would worsen the existing speeding problem in the area but officers recommended the proposals be given the go-ahead.
And having visited the site on Tuesday (June 2), members of the planning committee opted to go against their advice – unanimously rejecting the proposal.
They argued there was insufficient detail to judge the road safety issues and the plans would have a negative impact on the surrounding lanscape, which included Anne Hathaway’s cottage.