Solar farm plan set to be rejected again

from left, Jane Evans, John McGinty and Milly McGinty from Heapey

from left, Jane Evans, John McGinty and Milly McGinty from Heapey

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A controversial solar farm project looks set for its latest setback when it goes before planning councillors this evening.

The scheme – proposed for the countryside at Heapey – has already been rejected out by Chorley development control committee.

And following a subsequent appeal, it was thrown out by a government planning inspector.

A new bid by applicant, the Cassidy & Ashton Group Ltd, with a revised plan, has been recommended for refusal by planning officers at tonight’s development control committee.

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

However, the committee will be told in an officer’s report: “The proposal would be inappropriate development within the green belt.

“The size, scale and nature of the proposal is such that it is considered to cause significant harm to the countryside through encroachment of development into the countryside eroding the openness of the green belt and that the harm arising is not outweighed by any potential benefits.

“Whilst the proposal may be materially different to the recent appeal decision on the same site, it is not considered that the changes to the proposal are sufficient to overcome the Inspector’s reasons for refusal.”

Among objectors are Anglerzarke and Heapey parish councils, Blackburn Road and Great Knowley Residents Association, councillors Kim Snape, and Gordon and Margaret France.

The council received more than 380 objections to the plan, with just eight in support.

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle stated: “The area in question of the gateway to the West Pennine Moors Country Park. The development will have a significant and visually unavoidable impact on an otherwise beautiful area of the countryside.

“This is an inappropriate use of agricultural land.

“All views and concerns of residents should be given due regard when this application is considered.”

The applicant declined to comment.