10-hectare solar farm would cause significant loss of quality agricultural land

A 4.99 MW solar farm on agricultural land in north Lincolnshire was refused on the grounds it would result in the loss of over 10 hectares of best and most versatile agricultural land which was held as "significant development" contrary to paragraph 112 of the NPPF.

The sole issue in the solar farm proposal was the loss of over 10 hectares of best and most versatile agricultural land (BMV) involved. The inspector felt that this scale of development, affecting grade 2 and 3a agricultural land, could be construed as "signifcant" in relation to the NPPF paragaph 112, citing the Development Management Procedures Order, 2015 which considered development over 1 hectare as "major". This was despite the apellant's argument that Natural England only want to be informed of the loss of BMV agricultural land when over 20 hectares are affected.

The inspector referred to the Written Ministerial Statement of 2015 which refers to "any proposal" and "compelling evidence". She held that insufficient evidence had been put forward to justify the loss based on a search area of only five km and only partial assessments of alternative land within that search area. Whilst the inspector considered the significant benefts of the energy generation and the carbon dioxide emissions offset, she felt the loss of BMV agricultural land outweighed the benefits in this case.

Inspector: Susan Heywood; Written Representations

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