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Giant solar array at Aylesbeare recommended for approval

Wednesday, 06 November 2013 1 Comment by Claire

A huge solar array, spanning five fields and 55 acres at a village near Ottery is set for approval at next Tuesday’s development management committee meeting.

The planning application for land between Aylesbeare and Marsh Green at Great Houndbeare Farm, has caused a stir with residents and at a meeting organised by Aylesbeare Parish Council back in the summer, there was much opposition to it.

The field, which is currently in agricultural use and is growing crops, would see 40,000 photovoltaic solar panels erected, if the application is approved by councillors on the development management committee. 

The applicant says that the scheme would generate enough electricity to power 2000 homes a year.  Each panel would be over two metres high.There would be enough room for sheep to graze underneath the panel and the scheme would be screened by hedges and trees, states the developer.

Planning officers agree that the array would be mostly screened by hedgerows surrounding the fields but they do express a concern over water run-off, which they have dealt with via a planning condition.

The committee report states that the national planning policy framework applies a presumption in favour of energy applications providing the scheme impacts “can be made to be acceptable.”

I have opposed the application and made reference to the Devon Landscape Policy Group advice on solar and wind farms. I have to say the scheme is huge - at 55 acres - it is beyond the maximum size range of schemes described in the report. Even schemes of 39 acres (15 hectares) are deemed “very large” - this scheme is considerably bigger than this.

I also share the concern at the potential loss of a significant area of productive agricultural land.

There would be high fencing and 36 security cameras installed around the five fields.

Highways officers, who initially recommended refusal for the scheme for inadequate access reasons, have now accepted a temporary traffic light system during the construction phase, which it is said, would take around six weeks.

Here’s what happened at Aylesbeare Parish Council in July when developers, Cherry Solar, presented to residents -
http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/aylesbeare_parish_council_rejects_large_solar_array/

Here are the guidelines on solar and wind farms that EDDC assessed the scheme against - http://www.claire-wright.org/index.php/post/assessing_the_appropriateness_of_a_solar_or_windfarm/

Councillors will make a decision on whether to approve the application next Tuesday morning (12 November). The meeting starts at 10am. Members of the public are welcome to address the committee for up to three minutes each.  Here’s the agenda and officer’s reports - http://www.eastdevon.gov.uk/combined_dmc_agenda_121113.pdf 

Photograph:  Aylesbeare village centre.

Comments

1. At 11:29 am on 10th Nov John sheaves wrote:

Claire,

Whilst I personally don’t like the idea of farmland being taken out of food production in respect of solar generation, we need to be mindful of two facts:
1) that consumers generally do not pay enough for food in this country making solar power generation more profitable than food production, and
2) the land classification is Grade 3 for a reason, it is a poorer grade of agricultural land as most soils are around this immediate area are, next to the Budleigh Pebble beds.  This means that the capacity to produce top quality food products is reduced, not eliminated, but reduced.

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