20/03403/FUL –Solar Farm proposals in Bramley & Silchester Parishes

Much is being said on social media about the Borough Council’s decision to refuse the Solar Farm application.  Here are the facts:

The planning decision making process has followed the rules throughout.  Everyone, for or against, was given the opportunity to formally express their views to Planning Officers.  It is only those formal comments that are considered in the application review.  As has been explained a number of times, Facebook comments are not part of the process.

The refusal was made for the following material planning considerations:

  • Local plan policy EM1 – Adverse impacts on the landscape, loss of an important visual amenity. The proposal did not respect the ” tranquillity, quiet enjoyment of the landscape from public rights of way.”
  • Local plan policy EM8 – The proposal did not demonstrate that the benefits outweighed the adverse impact on the environment: loss of good agricultural land and heritage assets and again visual appearance and overall landscape.
  • Local plan EM11 – The proposal would adversely impact access to and cause damage to archaeological heritage assets.

There were other objections and concerns raised far exceeding those in support but those affecting the policies above were the key considerations.

In summary the Borough Council members considered the disadvantages outweighed the proposed benefits.

Please note that it certainly does not follow that “no solar farm means more houses”.  These sites have NOT been in put forward in the Local Plan Update and are therefore NOT under consideration for housing development.  Should a housing application come forward at any time in the future it would still have to satisfy the Council that it did not adversely impact the policies mentioned above and a whole lot more besides.

The decision notice can be viewed directly here or can be viewed on the Borough Council planning portal here .