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Decision reversed for Georgeham solar farm

13:12 23 April 2014

Solar farm plan: Picture for illustration only

Solar farm plan: Picture for illustration only

Archant

Plans for major solar array given the go-ahead on appeal.

PERMISSION for a large solar farm spanning two fields on the outskirts of Georgeham has been granted by a government planning inspector.

Plans for thousands of solar panels were rejected by North Devon Council in March last year due to their visual impact on the landscape, but the decision was overturned on Tuesday week following an appeal.

The solar array at Barton Close Farm would feature approximately 75 rows of around a total of 23,000 photovoltaic panels covering a 28 acre site.

Woolacombe and Georgeham parish councils also objected to the plans due to the scheme’s proximity to the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and concerns that it would industrialise an important area of the local coastline.

Following the planning inspector’s decision, Georgeham parish and district councillor Pat Barker told the Gazette: “Although I have no concerns about solar farms, I just felt that this one was in the wrong place.”

But in upholding the appeal by Solar Power Generation Ltd, planning inspector Anthony Thicket, said that although the area was attractive, it was ‘arguably far from unspoilt’.

He said: “There would, inevitably, be a greater landscape and visual impact closer to the site.

“However, the countryside is not untouched by man and is dotted with buildings, some large modern agricultural barns.”

It is estimated that the 5.7MW scheme will provide electricity for 1,765 homes and contribute a 2,500 tonne annual carbon reduction.

Angus Macdonald, managing director of British Renewables, said it would secure the future of the organic dairy farm for generations to come.

“Renewable energy projects offer a helping hand to farmers who want to stay in business and do their best for their communities and for the future.”

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