Oxford Planning Team Appeal Success for Solar Farm
Date of Article
Mar 11 2016

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2 March 2016, The Oxford Planning Team has been successful in winning an appeal to secure permission for a solar farm on around 8ha of land in the District of Stratford on Avon.

The main issue considered by the appeal Inspector was the effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding landscape, including the effect on the setting of the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

The Inspector noted that the provision of renewable energy forms a vital part of the Government’s policy in relation to sustainable development, and that there is a clear presumption in favour of renewable energy development. She also referenced the Written Ministerial Statement from April 2014 which confirms the Government’s support for solar energy, including larger-scale field based solar.

The Inspector found that given the low lying solar panels (only some 2.5 – 3m in height) and the intervening hedgerows, potential views of the development would be very limited, intermittent and fleeting in nature. The Inspector also placed weight upon how the retention and reinforcement of existing hedgerows and trees would reduce the visibility of the proposal.

Weight was also given to the development’s capacity to generate almost 5MW of renewable energy per year, that much of the site would remain undeveloped and capable of continuing in agricultural use for sheep grazing, and that the proposal would also support farm diversification and result in biodiversity improvements.

It is clear in this case that the Inspector placed significant weight on national policies for renewable energy and did not require the development to result in no harm. Rather that due regard had to be given to the level of harm, along with the proposed mitigation. This harm had also to be balanced against the considerable weight to be given to the benefits of the renewable energy that the scheme would produce.