Massive A30 solar farm plans set for approval

Plans for a huge new solar farm for East Devon off the A30 are being recommended for approval. 

Daniel Clark www.devonlive.com 

The proposed development by Aura Power is for a subsidy-free solar farm of up to 49.9 MW capacity that would generate enough renewable electricity to supply the equivalent of over 12,000 typical homes or to power 18,000 electric vehicles annually.

Aura Power say it would save an estimated 11,500 tonnes of CO2 per year, making a substantial contribution to local and national net zero targets. Now councillors are being recommended to back the scheme.

This proposal is one of a number of solar developments which have recently been considered in East Devon. Some 60,000 panels were proposed covering more than 200 acres of land across a total of 27 farm fields in nearby Marsh Green.

But campaigners who opposed plans for a huge solar farm on farmland in East Devon were left to celebrate when back in December planners rejected the scheme. Devon CPRE, the Devon branch of the countryside charity, feared councillors in East Devon would back the proposal officers made for the development south of the settlement at Marsh Green to the East of Rockbeare alongside the A30 to be approved, only for councillors by six votes to four to reject the scheme.

Again though, East Devon District Council’s planning committee, when they meet on Tuesday, March 28, are being recommended to approve this plan for land east of Rutton Farm on Rull Lane. Officers say that despite the concerns raised, the scheme should go ahead. A total of 31 representations have been received, consisting of 24 objections and seven in support.

“Concerns about the impact of the proposed solar farm on residential amenity have been raised by a number of people residing in the vicinity of the site,” the report says. “However, the proposal site would not immediately adjoin the curtilage boundary of any residential property, and the hedges on the boundary would be enhanced as part of the works.

“It is considered that the site is a sufficient distance from other solar developments, either existing or with extant permissions, in the area to ensure, that there would not be a significant cumulative visual impact. In terms of other cumulative impacts, it is considered that there would be no significant harm arising from those circumstances

“It is considered that the proposed development would not have a detrimental impact on any listed buildings. Natural England has confirmed that the site and proposal is acceptable in terms of its impact upon the area and biodiversity. The Council’s Ecologist also supports the proposal in this regard.

“The proposal is considered acceptable in terms of its impact on archaeology, highway safety, aviation, railways, trees and hedges, and flooding and drainage – although, in some cases, conditions relating to those matters are proposed. It is recommended that this application is approved.”