AN ENTRERENEUR has welcomed the rejection of plans to build a solar park in Enstone.
Lomond Holdings Ltd – which owns part of Enstone airfield – had submitted proposals to place solar panels on a 600m stretch of land at the centre of the airfield’s runway.
Paul Fowler, owner of Enstone Flying Club, has been fighting the plans which he fears could put an end to flying activities at the club.
He remains concerned that Lomond will continue to pursue the plans. “This is not the Battle of Britain, it’s the Battle of Enstone and we will fight on because we’ve got nowhere else to go,” said Mr Fowler.
The application – thrown out by West Oxfordshire District Council on Monday – was the second in less than a year to potentially threaten the future of Enstone airfield and its growing Spitfire squadron.
Mr Fowler said: “If they can stop the flying, they can go to the council and say that it’s just agricultural and brownfield land. If they can get rid of flying the land becomes a lot more desirable to a developer.”
The Enstone entrepreneur, whose project to build a squadron of spitfires from kit form has put Enstone on the map in recent months and attracted attention from aircraft enthusiasts, tourists and the national media, says any threat to the airfield would be a disaster.
He said: “It would be a tragedy if we lost this airfield as it’s one of the few places left like this in the country and the chances of finding a place like this again are zero.
“We couldn’t move to Oxford Airport as they are going to be flying more business jets out of there and they don’t want small aeroplanes.
“The airfield is also a real magnet for wildlife. We get goldfinches, rooks and peregrine falcons here who all live happily alongside the airfield.”
A total of 325 letters of objection to the solar scheme were submitted to the council along with statements of opposition from the Civil Aviation Authority and London Oxford Airport which expressed concerns that the glare from the solar panels could dazzle pilots in incoming aircraft.
West Oxfordshire district councillor Derek Cotterill said: “The solar panels would have been high up and clearly visible and they’re not the sort of thing people want to see in the landscape.
“We’ve got to look after the Cotswolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
Lomond also lodged an application to build industrial units on the site in June 2011, but the plan was refused on the grounds that it would result in the provision of ‘speculative’ employment development in what was described by the council as an ‘isolated and unsustainable location.’