Solar farm bid moves ahead after deadline

Jane Evans, of Tithebarn Farm, Tithe Barn Lane, Heapey.
Jane Evans, of Tithebarn Farm, Tithe Barn Lane, Heapey.

The deadline has passed for formal comments on a controversial solar farm application in the Chorley countryside.

Applicant, Preston architects Cassidy + Ashton, is bidding again to get the go ahead for the construction at Heapey after losing out on appeal.

The proposals for a 18.4 hectare site on green belt were turned down by Chorley Council last year.

Planning inspector John Braithwaite dismissed the applicant’s appeal.

The proposals have been changed and would see the panels placed only on the northern part of the site.

It would be a 4.99MW solar farm – instead of the 8MW originally planned – and would generate enough electricity to power 1,515 homes.

The arrays would be placed on green belt land and sheep could graze around them.

Construction would take six to 12 weeks and the solar farm would be removed after 25 years.

Anti-solar farm resident Jane Evans, of Tithe Barn Lane, Heapey, said: “I was pleased the Government inspector referred to Tithebarn Farm – at least my position had been considered. It was a contributory factor in the conclusion. The inspector said the residents of Tithebarn Farm would be able to see this construction and there would be a visible impact that would be quite extensive.”

Comments objecting to the plans on Chorley Council’s planning website include:

• “We recently moved to the area because of the beautiful countryside and walks. If this type of energy is really needed, there are dozens of alternatives to this, such as the roofs of large building, motorway banking etc, where the environmental impact will not be as great.”

In support, one stated:

• “This revised proposal seems to take account of some of the previous concerns and objections.

“Obviously it is important that any such development considers carefully the need to conserve areas of natural beauty. And it is precisely because there is a need to look after our countryside that this proposal needs clear council support.

“We are at a crisis point in terms of how we produce the energy we all need for our daily lives – we cannot continue in the way we are going – if we do, there will be little left to conserve and our children and grandchildren will wonder why we didn’t look up, see what was happening and make bold choices about the way forward. So it is precisely because of the effect that this proposal will have on nature conservation and trees that it needs support.”

Alban Cassidy, chartered town planner and environmental consultant at Cassidy + Ashton, said: “We hope that the local authority will see the significant environmental benefits of the scheme as there is such little provision for renewable energy projects in Chorley despite overwhelming support for such schemes in the council’s own policy documents.”

A Chorley Council spokesman said: “The statutory consultation period ended on Thursday, December 4, however people can still make comments right up until a decision is made.”