CONTENTIOUS plans for a solar farm in Newbold Pacey near Stratford are set to be given the green light by council chiefs.
Stratford District Council (SDC) is recommended to grant planning permission for a solar farm across five fields at Elm Farm despite staunch opposition from SDC’s ward member Coun Anne Parry and several local parish councils.
The application has been put in by Novus Renewable Service Limited and would see 39 hectares of solar panels installed, each reaching up to three metres high, with the aim of providing enough electricity to power 5,623 homes – equivalent to nine per cent of Stratford district.
This amounts to an approximate annual saving of 5,379 tonnes of carbon dioxide, according to the official documents.
Planning chiefs at SDC said in a statement, ahead of the council meeting on Wednesday (August 17), that according to their core strategy policy on sustainable energy, the council must support proposals for solar energy where the impacts are, or can be, made acceptable.
The statement continued that in July 2019, SDC declared a “Climate Emergency” and resolved “to contribute to national carbon neutral targets through the development of their own practices and policies”.
“The provision of a solar farm therefore accords with this commitment, however, it also needs to be balanced against all other material considerations”, planning chiefs added.
The application has also attracted almost 50 letters of support from the public on grounds including the provision of renewable energy, it would have an acceptable impact on the landscape and environmental benefits.
But SDC ward member for Wellesbourne East, Coun Anne Parry is not convinced.
She said that while she did not object in principal to a solar farm on this site, its scale and design were “excessive” and “would result in a complete change of rural character of this area and loss of visual amenity”.
She also pointed out that the solar farm would cause a distraction to motorists on an already dangerous stretch of road.
Coun Parry continued: “It is my understanding that solar farms should aim to avoid affecting the visual amenity of landscapes, maintaining their natural beauty and should be predominantly flat, well screened by hedges, tree lines etc., and not unduly impact upon nearby domestic properties or roads.
“During the public engagement process the developer appeared to take on board the importance and need to incorporate an extensive landscaping scheme into the application, as they were unaware of the high number of road fatalities adjacent to the proposed site on the Newbold Road.
“This clearly has fallen on deaf ears as the proposals lack additional landscape planting and they have ignored the fact that the B4087 is one of the most dangerous roads in Warwickshire. A large solar farm adjacent to this road would cause a further distraction to drivers and fuel additional serious motoring accidents.”
Three local parish councils – Newbold Pacey and Ashborne, Wellesbourne, and Moreton Morrell – have also put in their objections including the inappropriate scale and design, impact on traffic, insufficient natural screening, and the detrimental impact on the rural character.
There are 32 letters of objection from the public.