Exeter Planning
10 Whitchurch Avenue

Solar farm refused permission (with help from Exeter Planning)

A 48 acre solar farm in Ashwater, North Devon has been turned down on appeal.

An inspector upheld Torridge District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission partly because of the harmful effects on the countryside and a grade II listed farmhouse and a livery yard, rare sheep farm and tourist business run by a client of Exeter Planning.

Heather Blease and John Butterworth who run the livery yard, sheep farm and tourist business are relieved at the announcement but remain fearful that a second scheme may emerge.

When I first met Heather with a view to helping her object to the scheme she felt it was a foregone conclusion that the Council would approve the scheme because renewable energy projects rarely seemed to be refused.

However, between the time the application was made and the appeal determined there has been a shift in the Government’s attitude towards projects of this scale in the countryside and the Secretary of State has called in a number of proposals for his own determination, refusing the majority.

Currently the Government is particularly concerned about projects which cause harm to the landscape and to the setting of heritage assets. They feel that solar panels should predominantly by sited on the roofs of industrial and public buildings where the power harvested can be used on site.

There is certainly an issue with solar (and wind) farms which seek to feed into the national grid because the grid is designed for distributing energy from power stations rather than the reverse flow.

There is also an issue concerning the storage of power from renewable sources. Technology is developing but to a large degree renewable energy is difficult to store, so the idea of using it on site seems to be a sound one.

It certainly now seems to be the case that renewable energy projects will not get planning permission “on the nod” if they are large scale, in the countryside or will adversely impact on the setting of heritage assets

Exeter Planning