Huge solar farm approved for farmland near Clyst Hydon

A new solar farm capable of powering almost 15,000 homes is set to be built in East Devon.

Paul Jones www.midweekherald.co.uk

Lightrock Power’s plan for the 49MW energy plant at Clyst Hydon, known as Paytherden Solar Farm – was approved by East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) Planning Committee at a meeting on Tuesday morning (July 26).

The scheme, on more than 170 acres of land adjacent to Peradon Farm, had been recommended for approval by planning officers.

More than 550 people commented on the application, with more than 200 supporting the scheme, submitted by LDA Design on behalf of Lightrock Power.

Reasons for opposing the plans included the loss of farmland and potential flooding.

The Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) was among those who objected to the plans.

However, the RSPB is backing the scheme, pledging to work with developer Lightrock on measures that would ‘deliver benefits for a wide range of species and will certainly be of higher ecological value than what is currently there’.

Councillors voted 10 votes in favour to two votes against to approve the plans.

After the meeting Chris Sowerbutts, co-founder of Lightrock, said: “This decision will help us to tackle climate change by decarbonising how we generate electricity.

“The decisions we must take to tackle the climate crisis aren’t always easy so we’re grateful to members of the planning committee, council officers and everyone who has engaged in this project.

“We now look forward to continuing to work with the local community, East Devon District Council and other stakeholders to move forward with our plans.”

The solar farm would sit on land near Clyst Hydon – Credit: Lightrock/Google

The solar farm will significantly benefit the environment, he said, helping barn owls to thrive and nest on site, establish otter holts and habitat, improve the banks of the River Clyst for wildlife including water voles, and improve other existing ecological corridors for reptiles, amphibians, and small mammals including brown hares and hedgehogs.

“We face an ecological crisis as well as a climate crisis so it’s so important solar farms like Paytherden benefit local wildlife as well as generating renewable energy,” Mr Sowerbutts added.

To find out more about the plans, visit http://www.paytherdensolarfarm.com.