COUNCIL chiefs have given the green light to another solar farm in the district.
Members of Stratford District Council’s Planning Committee gave the go-ahead to the application submitted by Regener8 SPV1 Limited for the farm on land at Crimscote when they met on Wednesday (November 23).
This was despite a raft of objections – with some opponents claiming there are already enough solar farms in the area.
Whitchurch Parish Council and ward member Coun Edward Fitter were among those who submitted their formal objections to the 59.4 hectare farm on fields four miles from Stratford.
Coun Fitter said it was the wrong location for a solar farm as there was already one at nearby Preston-on-Stour and another proposed at Bishop’s Itchington.
He said SDC’s green energy plan should have solar farms spread out across the district and not have them concentrated in one area.
He added the rural landscape was central to the character of the area and the visual impact of the application was “appalling”.
Whitchurch Parish Council submitted a host of objections. This included the scale and form of the development being “wholly inappropriate to the rural area” as well as the adverse impact of the solar farm already at Blackwell Grange in Ilmington.
Parish councillors also objected to the loss of agricultural land and the continued industrialisation of the open countryside.
Tredington Parish Council and Ilmington Parish Council also objected on similar grounds.
While there were 78 letters of objection – including from the CPRE and the Crimscote Committee for Environmental Responsibility group.
Concerns included the scale, form and amount of large buildings and structures included in the application, the fact the solar farm would be widely visible, the wider implications of loss of productive land for food production within the UK and the impact on natural habitats and wildlife.
But adjoining ward member for Shipston North, Coun Trevor Harvey supported the application due to experience in his own ward.
He explained: “Seven years ago, in the face of opposition from some local residents, approval was given on appeal to an eight hectare, 25 year solar panel scheme on the outskirts of Blackwell. This development cannot be seen from any adjacent road because of hedges. Many residents remain unaware that it exists, and none has expressed any comment about it since I have been a councillor.”
He added that if anything, the Blackwell Solar Farm was more visible than the Crimstone Solar Farm would be, due to its proposed location in a “shallow bowl”.
There were 35 letters of support including from Stratford Climate Action.
Planning officers recommend the committee grant the application as contributed to SDC’s commitment to national carbon neutral targets – as set out in the Climate Change Declaration – while any visual harm would be moderate and mitigated to a large extent by soft landscaping.