Go-ahead for solar plans at 50-acre farmland site

Tuesday 4th January 2022 9:00 am

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A SOLAR farm which could power around 4,000 homes has been given the green light by council planners.

Renewable energy firm Opdenergy UK 3 Limited have been granted permission to build on 50 acres of land at Locquiers Farm in Plump Hill near Mitcheldean, despite concerns from parish councillors that it could disrupt conservation efforts in the surrounding area.

The proposal includes installing 37,000 fixed solar panels in rows up to 9.8 ft in height.

Once installed, there would also be the opportunity to create pasture underneath the solar arrays for grazing livestock such as sheep.

Mitcheldean Parish Council had objected to the scheme because they feel the site is too close to the Westbury Brook Hibernation Mine and the Wigpool Hibernation Mine, which are sites of special scientific interest and part of the Wye Dean special area of conservation.

Councillors also said the site is within statutory forest and does not comply with their neighbourhood development plan.

They say the land is a valued landscape and recreational space, with waymarked circular walks and the Wysis Way footpath nearby, and that it is one of the few places offering peace and tranquillity between Drybrook and Mitcheldean.

Some 11 people had written in support of the proposals, while one person objected.

Council officers had recommended approving the scheme, which they say will not cause any unacceptable harm to the character and appearance, living conditions, biodiversity and highway safety of the surrounding area.

At a committee meeting on December 14, Councillor Thom Forester (Independent Alliance, Mitcheldean, Ruardean and Drybrook) spoke against the proposals, which he said are the thin end of the wedge. However, Cllr Brian Lewis (Con, Hartpury and Redmarley) proposed approving the scheme and this was seconded by Cllr Julia Gooch (The Progressive Independents, Newent and Taynton).

The committee voted to approve the scheme by eight votes to one, with one abstention.

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