Town councillors reject solar farm

PUBLISHED: 10:30 24 September 2013

Solar farm plan: Picture for illustration only

Solar farm plan: Picture for illustration only

Archant

A PROPOSED 50-acre solar farm overlooking the Sid Valley would ‘degrade’ the green landscape and set a precedent for more projects in the area, according to Sidmouth town councillors.

Members voted not to support plans for the site at East Hill Strips near Sidbury, which would see 33,000 panels installed by renewable energy company Lumicity.

Concerns were raised about the effect of such a development on the scenic landscape, the loss of agricultural land, and potential flooding issues.

Councillor Ian McKenzie-Edwards said he was worried about the possible effect on tourism and that supporting the plans could send a signal to developers that the council was in favour of more projects in the area.

He added: “This development as a stand-alone isn’t particularly offensive, but I think this is just the first – there will be others.

“The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty [AONB] is part of our heritage, and people will not want to see it degraded.”

Councillor Simon Pollentine argued that it should be up to areas of the country that were ‘not as pretty’ as the Sid Valley to generate electricity for the more scenic parts. “We should allow the AONB to get on with its job of attracting visitors to the area,” he added.

Councillor Mary Jolly disagreed, and said that renewable energy sources were essential to supply the growing national need.

She added: “We are in danger of saying that they can’t build these anywhere because a lot of land in East Devon is designated AONB.

“I’m concerned that if we don’t support this it will be approved anyway, and we will be in a better position to mitigate the negative effects if we are in support.”

A final decision on the application will be made by East Devon District Council.

What do you think about the proposed solar farm? Should they be allowed in AONB? Or is the preservation of the landscape more important? Please leave your comments below or email harvey.gavin@archant.co.uk

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