Government planning inspectorate could decide if Halloughton solar farm near Southwell is built after councillors objected
A government planning inspectorate could decide if a massive solar farm near Southwell is built after councillors objected to the proposal, writes Local Democracy Reporter Matt Jarram.
The 49.9-megawatt solar farm in Stubbins Lane in Halloughton will spread across 13 agricultural fields and could power the equivalent of 12,000 homes.
In March this year, councillors were worried about the “sheer scale” of the development sitting close to a conservation area which includes the Grade II listed Church of St James and Manor House.
However, they did say it would bring environmental and economic benefits to the district.
Newark and Sherwood District Council has recently received notification of a valid planning appeal from the Planning Inspectorate against this decision, which is due to be heard at a Public Inquiry set to be opened on December 7.
The Pegasus Group, agents for the development, have sent a series of amendments to the council to see whether this changes its view of the application.
Changes include removing an area of solar panels and associated infrastructure from a central field to pull the development back from the conservation area.
There are also plans for more trees and hedges to be planted.
Eight interested parties have responded to the changes describing them as just “minor amendments.”
They state: “They do not in any way address sufficiently the potential harm and damage to the Halloughton Conservation Area, Brackenhurst and parts of Southwell.
“While climate change is an urgent issue, it is more important than ever that the correct decisions are taken as to the siting of green energy projects, so that what we are seeking to protect through developing clean energy sources is not irreparably harmed in the process.
“A development such as this lasting 40 years could reasonably be described as causing irreparable harm for the foreseeable future.
“Siting solar farms in appropriate locations must be a key part of the process of developing green energy.
“Newark and Sherwood District Council has a proud record of solar farm delivery over many years, through taking decisions based on the correct balance of green energy projects and ensuring that the needs of local people are met by protecting their environment.
“The pandemic has shown very starkly how important is our natural landscape for the health and well-being of local inhabitants and visitors. The overall scale of the solar farm would continue to be a harm to the landscape.”
Council planning officers said they have considered that the changes made by the appellant remain relatively minor and overall do not fundamentally avoid or minimise the conflict that was identified in the original committee report.
However, officers request councillors to consider whether the amendments put forward alters their previous assessment of the development.
The application will be discussed on Tuesday, September 7, by the council’s planning committee.