Decision delayed on plans to build massive solar farm amid concerns of ‘adverse impacts on much treasured landscape’

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A decision on plans to build a massive near solar farm has been delayed amid concerns the “modern project” will have “adverse impacts on much treasured landscape”.

Cherwell district councillors had been set to make the call on the Padbury Brook development earmarked for Stratton Audley near Bicester at a planning meeting on Thursday (June 6) last week.

But committee members decided to defer the choice for a site visit, despite officers recommending it for approval.

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The application seeks consent for a 44 megawatt (MW) energy generating station with a number of solar panels set out in rows.

A decision on plans to build a massive near solar farm has been delayed.A decision on plans to build a massive near solar farm has been delayed.
A decision on plans to build a massive near solar farm has been delayed.

This is planned over seven agricultural field parcels in the open countryside within a site area of approximately 59.4 hectares.

This comes as campaigners in other parts of Oxfordshire have spoken out against plans for a solar farm in Botley West “the size of Heathrow airport”.

An objection from the CPRE (campaign to protect rural England) said of the Stratton Audley plan: “CPRE is strongly of the view that this type of renewable project should only proceed if it can be demonstrated that it has public support from those communities that are most impacted from the development.

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“Notwithstanding the adverse impacts on much treasured landscape applications, such as this, are speculative in nature and have not been part of a consultation process on identifying suitable local sites which can then form the basis of a district wide local plan.

“As a general principle CPRE believes that solar panels on buildings, or other structures on brownfield sites such as car parks, provide alternative sources of solar energy to gas and electricity without the harmful impacts that emanate from the establishment of solar panels on greenfield sites.”

But a supporter, Jo Adams, of Lower Boddington, said: “I used to live in a neighbouring village, and I am pleased to support this modern project.

“I appreciate that some people will try to make a case against this development, but I feel that the positives of this project by far out number any negatives that people may think of (ie that it is in the wrong location)."

“I feel that this project has the capacity to make a significant contribution towards net zero, make a real contribution towards managing wholesale electricity prices (a very real issue for millions of people who struggle to pay their bills) -and bring many biodiversity benefits.”

An applicant planning paper says: “It has grown increasingly imperative for the UK to identify an affordable and consistent energy supply, for the utilisation of both current and future populations.”

The proposal to delay the decision was proposed by Labour councillor Amanda Watkins and seconded by Labour councillor Rebecca Biegel.

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