March 14, 2013

CPRE leader horrified by solar site

North Devon Journal | March 14, 2013 |

The chairman of the Torridge branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England is horrified at the scale of a solar farm which is currently under construction near Hatherleigh.

Penny Mills believes the scale of the site proves her fears there are too many large solar farm planning applications being submitted to local authorities.

Three are currently under construction between Hatherleigh and Holsworthy.

The 35-acre solar farm at Willsland, between Highampton and Hatherleigh was approved by the planning inspectorate at appeal last year after West Devon Borough Council refused it.

Mrs Mills said: “It is highly visible from the main Hatherleigh-Highampton road, the A3072, on the sloping farmland above the road, as we all knew it would be.

“This application was a typical example of how something has been imposed on a community against their wishes.

“This scheme was objected to by many people including the CPRE, the local parish council, and residents, and the West Devon Borough Council Plans Committee voted to refuse it.

“Now work has begun to build it and the true impact can be seen.

“I understand there have been problems with the huge lorries transporting the equipment trying to get up and down the narrow lane, with its ancient hedges and banks.

“There is no doubt it is changing the whole face of this part of rural Devon. We won’t be able to call it an unspoilt, undiscovered part of Devon any more, which is a great loss.”

Pauline Warner, from West Devon Borough Council’s planning department, said: “We have an adopted core strategy which was adopted in 2011, so it is up to date, as well as having the National Planning Policy Framework, which asks us to look at renewable energy applications in a favourable light, although we have to take them each in their merit.

“We have a strategic planning officer/member working group which will be looking at core policies including looking at renewable energy policies.

“We know councillors are concerned about the accumulative impact of solar farms and wind turbines.”

Torridge District Council said solar farms will be on the agenda of the next meeting of its renewable energy working group.

The council endorsed ‘An Assessment of the Landscape Sensitivity to Onshore Wind Energy & Field-Scale Photovoltaic Development’ in December 2011. The study assesses the sensitivity of the Torridge landscape to wind energy developments and field-scale solar PV developments.

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