Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Solar Plan for Sidmouth: the press

Reports in the local press have reflected the differing stances on the application to erect a 'solar farm' near Sidmouth:

Brighter future for area if solar farm goes ahead 

Friday August 30, 2013 

MORE than 1,600 homes will be powered by energy from the sun if an appication for a 50-acre soar farm overlooking the Sid Valley is backed. 

The 33,000 south-facing photovoltaic panels at East Hill Strips are hoped to generate seven megawatts of renewable energy, as small livestock graze nearby.

The site, a kilometer from Sidbury, is in open countryside, surrounded by woodland in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Under the plans, it is set to be used as a solar farm for the 25-year lifetime of the scheme, saving some 4,000 tonnes of carbon each year.

Applicants Lumicity Ltd say the community benefits of solar farms include creating nature reserves full of wild flowers and grazing animals, and the company is keen to work with beekeepers and Scout groups.

Additionally, land owners can earn nearly  £1,000 per acre each year, which the company says can bolster the income of farmers and bring financial security.

The planning application quotes the National Planning Policy Framework saying: "Planning should support the transition to a low carbon future in a changing climate and encourage the use of renewable sources, for example, by the development of renewable energy."

To mitigate the visual impact of the solar farm, the site will be surrounded by trees and hedgerows, and non-reflective panels have been chosen to prevent glare.

Dim view of solar farm  

Friday September 6th, 2013 

PLANS for a 50-acre solar farm overlooking the SId Valley have drawn fire from campaigners who fear it could set a dangerous precedent.

Proposals claim the 33,000 photovoltaic panels at East Hill Strips will power 1,600 homes - but objectors want to safeguard the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Sid Vale Association chairman Alan Darrant said: " We are getting more and more of these applications - it's not by square feet, it's by hectares. They should not be allowed in the AONB unless they are exceptional. I don't see how this qualifies." He added that approving applications in the AONB risks setting a precedent.

The Campaign to Protect Rural England labelled claims the solar farm could power 1,600 homes and save 4,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide are "excessive and misleading" - with its figures closer to 1,300 homes and 2,480 tonnes.

Concerns that the loss of agricultural land will exacerbate food supply problems, and the solar farm risks destabilising the National Grid, have also been expressed.

Devon County Council's archaeologist has recommended refusal as nearly sites could be of historic interest.

Sid Vale Energy Action Group chairman Derek Chant said: "We're not averse to the principle of a solar farm, but I am not sure of the community benefit."

Home - Sidmouth Herald

The local press has been reporting on other plans for solar farms in the area: 

Go ahead for solar farm

Fourth green electricity plant near Hawkchurch is approved despite a warning that it would be “a blight on the area”
Controversial plans to build a fourth giant solar farm on land near Hawkchurch have been given the go ahead – but with strict landscaping conditions.
East Devon district councillors gave the 22-hectare electricity generating plant the green light after visiting the site on Friday
At a previous meeting members of the development control committee had been warned that putting another solar farm alongside the three existing ones in the area would overwhelm the country scene.
Axminster councillor John Jeffrey said it would be ‘overdevelopment’, adding the village has already ‘done its bit’ for renewable energy.
“It would undoubtedly prove detrimental, not only to local residents but would also be a further intrusion into the landscape of their beautiful area,” he added.
Several other committee members said the plans should be rejected, including David Key, who called the height of the panels, which were designed so sheep could continue to graze underneath them on the grade three agricultural land, a ‘monstrosity’.
Councillor Peter Sullivan said another solar farm in Hawkchurch would be a ‘blight on the area’, and Councillor Geoff Pook urged the council to refuse permission.
But after seeing the site, alongside the village sub station, members decided the scheme could go ahead – provided it was properly screened.
The imposed an amended condition that: “The approved landscaping scheme and wildlife and landscape management plan shall be carried out in the first planting season after commencement of the development unless otherwise agreed by the planning authority…and shall be maintained as approved for the duration of the development.
“In the event of failure of any vegetation to become established and to prosper for five years following the completion of the approved planting scheme, such vegetation shall be replaced on a like for like basis.”
The committee said it was imposing the tough conditions: “To protect and improve the appearance of the site in the interests of visual amenity of the area and to provide biodiversity enhancement opportunities in accordance with national planning policy framework of the East Devon local plan.”

Bright future for Axminster solar farm

A £10million solar farm could soon be providing much of Axminster’s energy needs.
A planning application to build the ‘green’ power plant, on a 40-acre site at Raymond’s Hill, is due to be submitted by the end of the month.
If approved, the five-megawatt station could be up and running by the end of next year - providing the total electricity needs for some 2,000 local homes.
The panels will almost completely cover the 45-acre Newlands Farm owned by Gilbert Churchill. But they will be placed at a height which will enable him to continue grazing sheep on the grass beneath them.
The solar farm will be constructed and operated by TGC Renewables who unveiled the scheme at an exhibition in Axminster Guildhall last week.
Company spokesman Roy Amner told The Herald the electricity generated would be sold to Western Power and fed into the local network to supply homes and businesses in and around Axminster.
There would be little maintenance required, no noise and the sun-powered units were able to produce electricity even in the rain.
Mr Churchill said he had to decided to lease the company his land because he considered solar power a much better alternative to nuclear energy. He said the site was naturally well screened and the nearest residents would be a field away from the solar panels.
“Everyone I have spoken to is happy about it,” he said.
At their meeting last week Axminster town councillors agreed that adequate screening was the key issue.
Cllr Brian Watson said they also needed to know where any access roads would be created.
Cllr John Jeffery said a similar solar farm at Beech Grove Farm, near Hawkchurch, had been well hidden.
“When people drive past it they don’t even know it’s there,” he said.
All the visitors at the exhibition, approached by The Herald, said they would be in favour of the farm.
Writing in the comments book, one local resident said: “I would much prefer to live next door to a solar park than to a nuclear or coal fired station…anything to reduce our dependency on fossil fuel. Go for it!”

Solar farm plan is given the all-clear

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

MID Devon's first commercial scale solar farm at Ayshford Court Farm, Westleigh, has been given the planning all-clear.
The scheme will see the installation of 21,600 solar photovoltaic panels over a 15.8 hectare area which will generate 5MW of renewable energy at peak times, enough to power up to 900 homes. It is expected that the developer will start building soon. Mid Devon district councillor Margaret Squires, the new chair of planning, said: "This is a very exciting scheme that will assist in addressing climate change and the need to generate energy from renewable sources."


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