Proposals for a huge solar farm in Mid Devon have again been rejected by councillors. After previously voting in July that they were ‘minded to refuse’ the scheme at Langford near Cullompton, members of the district council’s planning committee rubber-stamped their decision by seven votes to four at this week’s meeting. However, the committee was warned that the applicant may lodge an appeal against the decision.
Proposals for a huge solar farm in Mid Devon have again been rejected by councillors.
After previously voting in July that they were ‘minded to refuse’ the scheme at Langford near Cullompton, members of the district council’s planning committee rubber-stamped their decision by seven votes to four at this week’s meeting.
However, the committee was warned that the applicant may lodge an appeal against the decision.
The £40 million development was planned to occupy agricultural land to the east and north-east of the village of Langford, with four miles of security fences overseen by CCTV.
It would have produced enough energy to power around 10,000 homes a year, but more than 150 objections were received, including concerns it was too big and would ruin the landscape.
At approximately 61 hectares and over a mile long, the site would have been larger than Vatican City. It would have had an export capacity of 49.9 megawatts, cutting approximately 20,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year of its 40-year life span. After this time, the farm would return to agricultural use.
However, speaking at the latest meeting to consider a report on refusing the plans, Councillor Graeme Barnell (Lib Dem, Newbrooke) disputed those benefits, calling the lack of evidence “outrageous.”
“We’ve had repeated assertions – 20,000 tonnes of CO2 – I’ve not seen the calculations. The reality is that the current state of technology means that it takes two hectares to generate one megawatt. In other words, this site won’t generate 49 megawatts, it will generate 30 max.”
Cllr Barnell added: “Improvements in technology are taking place rapidly in terms of solar arrays. It means that these solar arrays will be replaced probably regularly over the lifetime of this development.
“That’s not included in this analysis. We’ve heard no evidence about that, we’ve had no evidence about the CO2 footprint of producing these solar arrays on a regular basis, nor about recycling.”
In July, the committee voted that it was ‘minded to refuse’ the application, in line with council rules. This was against the planning officer’s recommendation, which said: “This would be a large scheme that would provide a valuable contribution to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and this is a material consideration which warrants considerable weight.
“The proposal would support the government’s targets in terms of renewable energy provision to meet international commitments. Furthermore, it would allow Mid Devon to address the climate emergency in conjunction with Devon County Council.”
However along with the planning committee, many neighbouring local councils objected to the solar farm, including Cullompton Town Council which changed its mind in July and now opposes the scheme “in the most rigorous terms.”
At the meeting on Wednesday, Councillor Ron Dollie (Independent, Westexe) said: “These solar panels are a blot on the landscape. We’ve got to figure out whether their impact, having them and putting them up – the harm they do. We are a tourist area. We seem to forget that.”
Councillors voted by seven to four to refuse the proposed development because of concerns over its adverse impact on the landscape and on the setting of nearby grade II* listed Langford Court, along with the additional loss of agricultural land.