Plans for solar farm at Balsall Common refused - The Solihull Observer

Plans for solar farm at Balsall Common refused

Solihull Editorial 15th Feb, 2024   0

PLANS to turn greenbelt land in Balsall Common into a solar farm have been rejected by Solihull’s planning chiefs.

Exagen Developments application for the construction and decommission of Holly Lane Energy Park, a large solar farm and battery storage units, on Meer End were met with fierce opposition during a planning committee meeting.

The proposal saw eight members vote against the application, none for and one member abstained – despite it being earmarked for approval by officers ahead of the meeting.

The committee refused the application because the very special circumstances to build on greenbelt land were not made out on the application and it was inconsistent with the Local Plan.

The application was sent to both Solihull Council and Warwick District Council, as the site straddles the boundaries of both districts.

The developers said the site would have created enough energy to power up to 11,000 homes a year and would export to the grid for up to 40 years.

The site is currently used for arable farming and if plans were given the go ahead it was suggested the farmer would have been able to graze sheep on the land.

Speaking at the meeting Councillor Richard Drake from Balsall Common Parish Council said there were other sites such as warehouse, school and car park roofs that would be a better alternative to the green fields.

He also sited the number of other developments affecting the borough including changes from HS2, plans for 2,000 homes earmarked for the village in Solihull Local Plan, the development of JLR and solar farms in Honiley.

He said the affect all these developments will have on the village are more than should be asked of a community.

At the meeting Helen Hewitt, the development planner for Exagen said the development would be temporary, reversible as it was due to be decommissioned after 40 years.

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