Stroud District Council’s development control committee granted planning permission on Tuesday for the development on farmland in the village of Alkington. The applicant said the scheme would generate approximately 5MW of power per year, sufficient to meet the demands of 1,200 households.
According to a planning report, Alkington Parish Council raised concerns over the landscape impact of the proposal, which would be located just outside the Cotswolds area of outstanding natural beauty and would be visible from a number of well-used viewpoints, including the Cotswold Way long-distance footpath.
It also objected on the grounds of cumulative impact, with two solar farm schemes having already been permitted in the parish at Manor Farm and Upper Huntingford. The parish highlighted the importance of the tourism industry in the area.
But the planning officer’s report on the application said the intervisibility of the sites from publicly accessible locations was "limited" and that they were separated by the strong infrastructure corridors of the M5 motorway and the Bristol to Birmingham railway line.
"Whilst the Manor Farm and Upper Huntingford sites can be seen from the same locations, these are fragmented in views with the built element being relatively minor within the expansive wider landscape," the report said. "The perceived visual impact of two or more developments from one viewpoint is therefore likely to be limited."
The report added that the limited height of the proposed solar panels - which would be no more than 1.85 metres above ground - together with retention of hedgerows and the screening offered by a railway embankment would mitigate harm to the landscape and visual impacts.
On that basis, offciers concluded that the landscape impact would be "outweighed by the benefit of renewable energy provision".