19th Oct, 2017

Solar farm set for refusal

Solihull Editorial 1st Oct, 2014 Updated: 21st Oct, 2016

CONTROVERSIAL plans for a huge solar farm in the Meriden Gap could be blocked by councillors.

Proposals put forward by Green Energy UK Direct Ltd would see panels stretch across a large expanse of Greenbelt land – the size of around 27 football pitches – between Balsall Common and Tile Hill station on the edge of Coventry.

The project would generate enough energy to power more than 2,000 homes each year and save thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.

But members of Solihull Council’s Planning Committee were advised to refuse the plans when they met on Wednesday (October 1).

This follows opposition from nearby residents and community organisations who fear losing a sensitive area of Greenbelt land.

Groups which objected include Berkswell Parish Council, Burton Green Parish Council, the Solihull Ratepayers Association, the Berkswell Society, Warwickshire Ramblers and the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

A petition signed by 251 residents was received by the council, as were 77 letters and emails from individuals and objections from Jeremy Wright, MP for Kenilworth and Southam, and Caroline Spellman, MP for Meriden.

In its response to the planning application, Berkswell Parish Council, said: “The Government’s commitment to renewable and low carbon energy, national planning policy and guidance makes it clear that it should not automatically override environmental protections and the planning concerns of local communities.

“These considerations should be given proper weight in the determination of the application.

“Planning practice guidance issued by Government notes the deployment of large-scale solar farms can have a negative impact on the rural environment, particularly in undulating landscapes.”

Proposals for the site at Nailcote Farm off Hodgetts Lane include a 1.85m high security fence which would be shielded from view by native vegetation.

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