Fate of huge East Devon solar farm hangs in the balance

A site visit will be needed for councillors to decide whether to approve or reject plans for a huge solar farm at Whimple in East Devon.

District council planning chiefs deferred making a call on the fate of the bid at a meeting last week.


The proposals had been recommended for approval by officers, writes Local Democracy Reporter Rob Kershaw.

Developer Aura Power Developments Ltd says the scheme will provide renewable energy to the equivalent of 21 per cent of homes in East Devon.

It has proposed constructing a solar farm of around 143 acres in size comprising of arrays, a sub-station, equipment housing, fencing, CCTV and other kit.

Data from the Campaign to Protect Rural England shows that there are more than 15 approved solar farms in East Devon – with more pending review by the district council.

And a meeting of the authority’s planning committee last week heard residents voice concern over the loss of good-quality farmland.

A representative for Aura explained that sunlight can still penetrate the panels and continue to help the grass grow.

The firm also plans to provide £20,000 a year to nearby residents to help with their energy bills.

Councillor Richard Lawrence, who represents Whimple, described this amount as ‘pitiful’.

He lamented the loss of ‘quality farmland’ ad added: “This plan does nothing to allay the very real fears of food insecurity.”

Members agreed to a site visit to gauge the impact of the development – proposed for land to the east of Rutton Farm and Rull Lane.

The fate of the planning application will be decided at a later date.