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Huge solar farm plan faces rejection

11:39 07 May 2014

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PLANS for a 30-acre solar farm outside Sidbury are on the verge of being rejected.

Energy firm Lumicity Ltd’s proposals for an array with 28,800 panels on East Hill Strips, to the northwest of the village, have been recommended for refusal by East Devon District Council (EDDC) officers.

Members of the authority’s development management committee are set to rule on the application, for a plot in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), tomorrow (Thursday, May 8).

Councillors have been advised in a report to turn the application down.

An officer detailed how the panels would be in place for 25 years along with associated inverter and transformer buildings.

Landscaping and creation of an area of heathland would also take place.

The officer said: “National renewable energy targets establish the need for solar panel installations of all scales but this does not diminish the value to be placed on the country’s most valued landscapes.

“Although planting would provide some screening, it would not completely hide the panels from view.

“Furthermore, the introduction of a large scale, fixed array of solar panels would not be compatible with the unspoilt rural character of the AONB.

“It is considered that the benefits of the proposal in terms of meeting renewable energy targets do not outweigh the harm to the character of the area.”

The proposed solar farm would provide enough clean energy to power approximately 1,680 homes and save around 31,000 tonnes of CO2 each year.

The current application is the second attempt by Lumicity Ltd to secure planning permission.

Blueprints for a 50-acre facility were rejected by the district council in December over concerns the installation would have on the landscape, the loss of agricultural land and potential flooding.

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