Well planned and screened solar farm impact agreeable

Large scale solar farms had the potential to have a negative impact on the rural environment, an inspector has concluded, but in relation to a planned scheme in Oxfordshire close to the Cotswold AONB he decided that it had been well planned and would be appropriately landscaped.

The appeal site comprised intensively farmed arable land within a generally open landscape which was particularly sensitive to tall structures. The solar farm would involve panels 1.8 metres high, he noted, along with two metre high deer fencing. These had the potential to undermine the enjoyment of walkers and horse riders unless mitigation was undertaken. By about year five the proposed hedgerows would provide some screening and this would thicken over time. Horse riders would have a greater chance of viewing the panels but they would also benefit from seeing across the farm into longer distant views which would reduce the overall impact.

In respect of the council’s assertion that other less sensitive sites existed the inspector noted that little evidence had been provided to support this claim. Neither local nor national policy required the appellant to prove there was no better alternative location for a development of the type proposed before permission was granted. It involved a sustainable form of development which would contribute to increasing electricity from a renewable source.

Inspector: Robert Mellor; Written representations

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