The proposal is for land next to Great Houndbeare Farm and would entail five fields – most or all of which are currently growing wheat – becoming a “solar farm.”
A public consultation event took place in Aylesbeare and Marsh Green last November and the applicant says that the proposal has been modified in response to people’s views.
The fields in question, which are adjacent to woodland in quiet countryside, if approved, would be boundaried by a 2.4m high security fence, with almost 40 closed circuit tv cameras in operation.
The applicant says that the scheme would involve installing 40,000 solar panels which would generate enough electricity to power 2000 homes a year. Each panel would be over two metres high.
There would be enough room for sheep to graze underneath the panel and the scheme would be screened by hedges and trees, states the application.
Sadly, one mature oak will have to be felled as it has been fatally damaged during a site survey, according to the tree report. Some trees are classed as category c trees (poorer quality trees) and are earmarked for felling.
EDDC’s landscape architect will examine the proposal for visual impact and I have also asked a member of the Area of Ooutstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) team to take a look, as the fields are only a short distance away from the East Devon AONB, at Venn Ottery and Aylesbeare Commons, which are covered by a network of public rights of way – views from these public rights of way are an important material planning consideration.
I have asked EDDC tree officers to take a look too, at the comprehensive tree report, which extends to over 80 pages. There are may be up to 100 trees on the land in question, some of which are recommended for management, most for retention and a small number for felling.
This is the first solar panel array application I have received in my ward. I have heard of the sheep grazing argument before – an attempt to refute anyone’s claim that good agricultural land will be lost? But can anyone confirm whether they have ever actually SEEN sheep grazing amid these panels?
The application can be viewed from the planning section of EDDC’s website. Here’s the planning code – 13/1390/MFUL