Fight continues against solar farm proposals

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Time is running out for residents to give their views on proposals to build a £12m solar farm in Heapey.

A consultation on the planning application ends on Thursday and Chorley Council’s development control committee will make a decision at its meeting in

December.

Protest signs have been erected at the site and so far more than 280 comments have been left on the council’s website, many from people voicing their objections.

Among those opposed to the scheme is the Lancashire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

After visiting the site, they are calling on the council to turn down the application.

Jackie Copley, planning manager for CPRE, said: “Our charity campaigns to protect and enhance a beautiful and living rural Lancashire for the benefit of future generations. We do support an increase in the amounts of energy achieved by the development of renewable energy projects, including solar energy.

“However, like Government, we believe the location of renewable energy ought not to be permitted in locations where adverse impact on the landscape, environmental protection and community concern are significant.”

The solar farm, off Tithe Barn Lane, would be surrounded by a 2.4m galavanised steel fence and security cameras would be installed.

The majority of the site is greenbelt land and people in the area are worried about the impact of the solar farm.

Concerns have also been raised about wildlife there.

John Ambrose, a property developer who works in Heapey, said a survey of the site done several years ago found great crested newts, a protected species.

He said: “You are not allowed to interfere with a protected species or its habitat.”

As previously reported, Chorley’s MP Lindsay Hoyle has written to Natural England asking for the land to be designated as an “area of outstanding natural

beauty”.

And Coun Marie Gray, who represents Pennine ward on Chorley Council, is urging residents to have their say on the planning application.

The applicants, Cassidy And Ashton, believe the solar farm could provide up to 8MW of energy – enough to power 2,500 homes each year.

Alban Cassidy, environmental consultant and chartered town planner at Cassidy And Ashton, said: “We would like to reassure residents that all queries are being addressed and we are in regular dialogue with the council’s planning officers.”