firstly due to lack of 'community value':
.... Additionally, as referred to above, a clear and specific commitment to providing
some community gain should be made.
A mail drop was undertaken by the applicant in the sparsely populated area around
the site, taking in a total of 33 properties. No written responses were received. While
this may suggest indifference to the scheme by the nearest residents, consultation
on this planning application has drawn comments from further afield which largely
express opposition to the scheme. Balancing the objections there have also been
letters of support from the local community.
Futures Forum: Solar Plan for Sidmouth fails
And secondly due to concerns for the AONB:
The need for renewable energy developments in order to meet UK-wide objectives is
recognised but this does not diminish the significance of the country's most valued
landscapes and the need to protect them from inappropriate development. In the
AONB management strategy it is envisaged that renewable energy projects will be in
the form of small scale domestic installations although it does not rule out larger
scale developments if the landscape character is maintained and the natural beauty
of the area is conserved or enhanced. In this case it is considered that the proposed
development fails to meet both of those tests and therefore would have an
unacceptable impact on the AONB.
Futures Forum: "It has not been demonstrated that development in the highly protected AONB landscape is essential."
It does seem clear, therefore, that the District Council is not 'against' solar farms - even on AONB:
Development Management Consultation Response
We welcome the principle of renewable energy provision in the AONB. AONB
Management Strategy Policy EQC1 outlines the need for such development that is in
keeping with the sustainable management of the landscape, maintains landscape
character and conserves and where possible enhances, natural beauty. This is a
major solar p.v. development. Given the scale and location of this application it is
somewhat surprising that the consultants have not referred to the East Devon AONB
Management Strategy or this policy in its Planning Statement given the material
evidence of AONB Management Strategy to the East Devon District Local Plan.
We feel this application does not confirm fully how it will meet AONB Management
Strategy policy EQC1 in its current form. We recognise that renewable energy is
offering an important and significant stable income stream for land managers at a
time when many forms of agricultural income are subject to the fluctuations of market
forces and the global economy. Nevertheless, this does not obviate the need to
address the primary purposes of AONB designation to 'conserve and enhance
EQC1: Support and encourage environmental and renewable energy initiatives aimed
at maintaining and improving the natural resources of the AONB and reducing
greenhouse gas emissions, that are in keeping with the sustainable management of
the landscape, maintain landscape character and conserve and where possible
enhance, natural beauty.
Interestingly, the Environment Agency and Natural England were not against the proposal.
Here is the comment from Cllr Chris Wale in support of the application:
A local businessman addressed the planning committee at its hearing - urging approval:
A comment left on Cllr Claire Wright's blog
Chris Wakefield has left similar comments in support of renewable energy:
Here's more on the George Monbiot 'conversion' to nuclear:
Why Fukushima made me stop worrying and love nuclear power | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian
It can’t be easy being George Monbiot | Jonathon Porritt
Futures Forum: Sidmouth hydroelectricity