A huge solar panel array planning application for land between Aylesbeare and Marsh Green was today, given the green light by EDDC’s planning committee.
Four residents spoke against the 55 acre application, at Great Houndbeare Farm, including the vice-chair of Aylesbeare Parish Council, Cllr John Ayres and vice-chair of Rockbeare Parish Council, Cllr David Mason.
John Ayres said that the community had to “carry the burden” of the “vast proposal” without any community benefit. He asked what price the development management committee would put on that burden.
Cllr David Mason was concerned about the impact of water run-off on Marsh Green, given that it already has a flooding problem. He said he was concerned that a proper flood risk assessment had not been carried out.
He asked that the application be deferred while a flood risk assessment be carried out.
Mrs Cahart in North Cottage was very worried about the effect of 16, 40 feet long 40 tonne lorries on her cob built cottage, which is right on the tiny Great Houndbeare access farm track, which would be the access into the five fields.
These lorries would thunder past her cottage, inches from her windows.
Mrs Cahart had telephoned developer, Cherry Solar, about her plight and to ask for them to pay for structural surveys, but her call had not been returned.
Mrs Hatswell who also lived on the access track, said that she and her family had farmed the land for 40 years and the land was good food producing land for all that time. “We fed the nation,” she said.
She added that the soil was clay and water would run off it easily and down the hill to Marsh Green.
I explained that I could only speak on behalf of Aylesbeare residents as this was my ward. I added that water run-off was a valid issue and I hoped that Marsh Green residents would get answers on this.
I expressed concern over the size and scale of the application, it was basically an industrial application in a rural idyll, especially when taking into account the 2.4m high metal fencing and 36 security cameras. I emphasised that the land was obviously fertile and productive and said that there should be community benefit on an application of this size.
I asked that the developer pay for the structural surveys for North Cottage and that a condition be applied on this. But planning officers said that this was an issue between the developer and the resident concerned.
The planning committee chewed the application for some time. Most councillors didn’t like it and thought it was too big, with too many similar applications springing up far too often. The difficulty was that none of the key consultees, including highways, Natural England, the Environment Agency, Exeter Airport etc, had objected, so establishing reasons for refusal that would stand up at appeal was tricky.
A bid by Cllr Tony Howard for refusal was voted down on the basis that his reasons could not be sustained at an appeal, because these consultees had not objected.
The application was then approved.
Ottery St Mary