A solar farm which will use 20,000 photovoltaic panels to power 1,515 homes each year has been approved after councillors felt it was adequately shielded from public view.
Yesterday (Thursday) members of Cherwell District Council’s planning committee went against officer’s recommendations to approve the erection of a 5MW PV solar farm and associated infrastructure at Hill Farm on Hill Farm Lane in Duns Tew.
Applicant Earthworm Energy Limited will build the development across 11 hectares of agricultural land and include the provision of wildflower buffers, grassland and trees to minimise its impact upon the landscape.
Councillor Michael Gibbard, Cherwell’s lead member for planning, said: “National planning guidelines encourage local authorities to approve the provision of renewable energy sources, except when the development will cause such damage to the local area that the negatives outweigh the positives.
“While we do accept this is a large development, the applicant has put a lot of thought into protecting views from the surrounding countryside by shielding the site with natural borders of flowers and trees. Furthermore, there are very few homes within the immediate locality which would be affected by the introduction of a solar farm to the area. Members therefore agreed this was a suitable location to permit the development which will help contribute towards sustainable energy production for future generations.”
The photovoltaic panels will be set out in rows running from east to west across the field and will be accompanied by four associated transformer/ inverter units as well as four pole-mounted CCTV cameras and perimeter fencing. The panels are expected to be operational for about 25 years.
The site will be shielded by the provision of five-metre wide wildflower buffers along the eastern, western and southern boundaries of the site as well as an area of grassland and tree planting to the north.
Under the requirements of the EU Renewable Energy Directive and the associated UK Renewable Energy Strategy (2009), the UK has an obligation to ensure that by 2020, 15 per cent of energy consumption comes from renewable sources.