Green belt and farmland loss thwart solar farm

Encroachment into the green belt, harm to landscape character and heritage assets and loss of top-grade farmland have led to dismissal of plans for a solar park in Gloucestershire.

After recovering the appeal, the secretary of state agreed with the inspector that the 7.76MW solar farm would reduce green belt openness and lead to encroachment into the countryside. He found no persuasive evidence that alternative brownfield sites were unavailable to accommodate the development or that developable greenfield sites of lower agricultural quality could be ruled out. He saw no compelling evidence to require use of best and most versatile agricultural land.

The secretary of state endorsed the inspector’s concerns over harm to landscape character resulting from loss of views from public rights of way. He also agreed with the inspector that while some heritage would not be adversely affected, one grade II listed building near the proposed site would be harmed, albeit less than substantially.

He acknowledged the scheme’s substantial contribution towards mitigating climate change by reducing carbon dioxide emissions and providing 2,200 homes per annum with electricity. However, he gave substantial weight to the totality of harm likely to be caused by the project.

Inspector: Jessica Graham; Written representations

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