October 24, 2013
Tedburn St. Mary Solar PV Farm Appeal Dismissed Again
After what feels like a very long period of deliberation the Planning Inspectorate have dismissed Inazin Solar's appeal against the decision of Teignbridge District Council to refuse planning permission for the Fulford Solar Park at Gold's Cross Hill near Tedburn St. Mary for a second time. Much like the first time around the inspector's report summarises the benefits of the proposal by saying:
I… conclude that the proposal would result in material benefits in relation to renewable energy and that this attracts significant weight. I furtherconclude that the proposal would thus accord with the National Planning Policy Framework in this regard and emerging Local Plan Policy S7.
whereas the disadvantages are that:
The proposal would have a harmful effect on the character and appearance of the surrounding area and that this harm attracts substantial weight. I further conclude that the proposal would thus conflict with Local Plan Saved Policies ENV1, ENV3 and ENV4 together with the National Planning Policy Framework in this regard.
There is also a section entitled "Other Matters" which does address the issue I raised in my own objection about the use "our best and most versatile agricultural land" for solar PV farms. It reads as follows:
It has been suggested that economies of scale and the consequent size of the proposal would be necessary in view of the availability of financial support. This factor, together with recent concerns in relation to the security of UK energy supply, would not however outweigh the harm identified. There also is no convincing evidence that the close proximity of a grid connection, local power use and an absence of brownfield alternative sites outside the ownership of the appeal site would weigh heavily in favour of the appeal site as a location for this proposal. There is also no convincing evidence that, outside of the National Park and the AGLV, there are no undeveloped sites that have a similarly good aspect for solar energy which are not on good agricultural land. These points do not add weight in favour of allowing the appeal. Any biodiversity benefits from land management measures included in the proposal would also not outweigh the harm identified.
After weighing these factors in the balance the Inspector's conclusion was that:
The proposal would result in material benefits in relation to renewable energy that would attract significant weight. Under the environmental dimension of sustainable development, this potential movement to a low carbon economy would not however be sufficient to outweigh the harm to the natural environment in terms of the character and appearance of the surrounding area which attracts substantial weight. Having also taken into account all other matters raised, none carry sufficient weight to alter the decision. I therefore conclude that the appeal should be dismissed.
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