• Aylesbeare Parish Council rejects large solar array

    7th August 2013 | News | Claire
  • The proposal is at Great Houndbeare Farm, on five fields currently growing wheat, between Aylesbeare and Marsh Green.

    Around 20 members of the public present were generally hostile to the idea for several reasons, including:

    – it is on good quality agricultural land
    – it is too big
    – it will be a visual eyesore
    – the access lane is unsuitable for large heavy vehicles

    Glen Crocker from Rexel Planning was speaking on behalf of the developer, Cherry Solar.  He said that the scheme would connect to a nearby electricity substation via an underground cable.

    During construction there would be around 22, 40 tonne lorry movements a day, if it was over a four week period, he said. If it was spread over six weeks, there would be 16 vehicles a day.

    Sheila Coward said she was very opposed to good agricultural land being used for such schemes. Solar panels should be installed on houses, roofs and brownfield sites, she said.

    Cllr John Ayres said that he had not been able to contact Cherry Solar at its offices and was concerned about the company’s viability.  There was some concern among those present about the company’s financial security and what would happen if it went out of business.

    Mr Crocker said he could not answer these questions because he was not directly employed by Cherry Solar, but if this happened the landowner would be responsible for the solar array.

    What would happen to the panels at the end of their life, Jean Foxhall wanted to know.

    The answer from someone who appeared to be a company representative sitting at the back of the room, was that the panels could last beyond 20 years, after which they could still be operating at 75 per cent efficiency. Mrs Foxhall was not happy that it appeared that there was no clear answer forthcoming about what would happen to the panels once they had expired. 

    I asked whether the company had plans to overcome EDDC’s landscape architect’s objections to the scheme. It is not acceptable in its current form, the landscape architect has said.  Mr Crocker said that they had photos of the scheme in November when there were fewer leaves on the trees and he thought that these would help persuade the landscape architect that the scheme should be approved.

    I also asked about community benefit. Currently there is none proposed.  This would be discussed with the applicant, Mr Crocker said.

    Swales would be installed to deal with land drainage, Mr Crocker advised.

    Councillors unanimously opposed the scheme because of its size, visual impact, use of good quality agricultural land, traffic during construction and flooding implications.

    I will submit my comment as ward member, tomorrow.