Impact on public footpaths by solar farm development beneficial

Constructing a solar farm on 63ha of land in Hampshire would lead to a beneficial use of public footpaths an inspector determined, with additional tree and shrub planting also benefiting the character of the area.

One public footpath would be extinguished and a new permissive route created the inspector noted. This would be of benefit since the existing footpath terminated at a dead end adjacent to a main road. Users had then to cross a dual carriageway in order to join another footpath. Its removal as part of the public footpath network was judged by the county council as a distinct advantage and the new permissive route which would join another footpath would provide better access from the urban area to a forest.
With regard to the impact on landscape character and the visual amenity of the area, there would be some impact on long distance views across the site by walkers but this would not be significantly adverse the inspector held. The appellant proposed additional hedgerow and tree planting which would remain after the site was decommissioned and would thereby continue to enhance the character and biodiversity of the area in the longer term. Other environmental benefits including the ability to generate up to 38.5MW of electricity per year and reducing carbon dioxide emissions supported his decision to allow the appeal.

Inspector: John Braithwaite; Inquiry

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