Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Huge solar farm plan in Shropshire is recommended for approval

A giant 23 megawatt solar farm on agricultural land near Albrighton in Shropshire has been recommended for approval by planners.

The proposals for the site include housing batteries and electrical inverters in shipping container-like structures to be able to feed the power for 7,642 homes straight into the electricity grid.

Around 100 representations have been received by the council, with the vast majority – by 78 to 22 – in support of the Low Carbon Solar Park 16 Ltd.

But key opponents include Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard, local councillor Nigel Lumby and Boningale Parish Council representing the village.

Objectors say they support the principle of solar energy, but not in that area. Councillor Lumby says he has his own solar panels.

The parish council says: “It is one of three sites around the Albrighton/Boningale area currently under consideration – one granted – and therefore the cumulative impact on the local Green Belt will be very significant and harmful.”

The farmer who owns the land says it is not top quality for growing cereal crops but using it in this way for 40 years would provide a useful income to help the farm invest. Sheep would be able to graze between the panels.

One of the key issues is over the defence of the green belt and the impact the development of 54.7 hectares of land would have.

But planning officers have concluded that national policies say that the climate emergency counts as a significant reason to use green belt land for solar farms.

Shropshire Council declared a climate emergency in May 2019.

Shropshire Council’s Climate Change Task Force said: “The climate crisis is a serious threat to the lives of millions of people globally, nationally and locally. The mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and adaptation measures to build resilience is now urgent and essential to prevent the worst outcomes.”

Planners have recommended that a committee meeting next week should approve the application subject to conditions and legal agreement securing funding to refurbish Grade II Listed Pepperhill Farmhouse.

Construction of the site is expected to take six months and the applicant has committed to provide a fund for use by the local community.

The southern planning committee will meet at Shirehall, Shrewsbury, to vote on the application on Tuesday, November 15, from 2pm. It will be live streamed on the council’s YouTube Channel.