PLANS to build a solar farm which Olympic medallists fear would hinder the preparation of horses and riders for Team GB selection have been rejected.

Pathfinder Clean Energy UK Dev Ltd was seeking permission to install the solar panels on around 34 acres of farmland north of Stream Lane in Upleadon, near Newent.

But the proposals, which could power more than 2,600 homes, have proved controversial with dozens of residents and the parish council opposing to the scheme.

Among those objecting are British dressage gold medallists Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin along with Italian rider Vittoria Panizzon who use the nearby narrow country lanes for riding.

The point was again made by the Chair of Upleadon Parish Council when he addressed the Forest Council’s development control committee urging them to reject the advice of officers and  dismiss the application.

Councillors eventually refused the appeal but on the grounds of the impact the solar farm would have on the character of the landscape.

Cllr Wood said that some of the top horses “not only in this country but in the world” were taken through the narrow lanes.

He said: “We should not put horses and riders at risk.”

Cllr Simon (Ind, Westbury), said he had viewed the site from the top of May Hill and had concluded the farm would have a significant impact on the view from one of the most important viewpoints in Gloucestershire.

Cllr Julia Gooch (Pro Independents, Newent and Taynton” said the rows of panels would be “intrusive and alien”.

She said the Newent area was being “inundated” by solar farms.

Cllr Gooch was also unhappy that council rules meant that as the local councillor for the affected, she was not allowed to vote on the proposal.

Cllr Gill Moseley (Lib Dem, Newent and Taynton) said there was an urgent need for renewable energy but the site was not appropriate.

Mary Duffield, who addressed the committee on behalf said the land would be taken out of useful production for 40 years – the expected lifespan of the solar farm.

She said: “Forty years is not temporary.

“There are several ways of producing renewable energy but only one way of producing food.”

Cllr Richard Burton spoke in support of the application.

He said hedgerows would reduce the visual impact of the solar farm.

He also reminded the committee that the council had declared a climate emergency.

Gill Eaton, who spoke on behalf of the applicant during that meeting, said the developer’s aim is to provide renewable energy which meet the UK’s need for clean energy.

She told councillors: “Solar projects like this are critical to addressing the climate emergency."

She said the land would be productive as sheep would graze under the panels.

She added that the proposal would help agricultural businesses diversify.

The committee first voted on a motion to accept the proposal but that was rejected by four votes to six.

Councillors then voted on a motion to reject the proposal which had six for, three against and one abstention.