New £12m solar farm may just be weeks away

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The construction of a proposed new £12m solar farm in the Chorley countryside could start within weeks.

The controversial plans are due to go before borough planning councillors next month.

If they get the go ahead, work on the scheme - in the Heapey greenbelt - could start as early as December. Formal consultation ended on Friday.

Alban Cassidy, chartered town planner and environmental consultant at Cassidy and Ashton, the applicants, addressed objectors’ concerns, saying: “The agricultural land is not of high quality and has not been intensively used for quite some time, other than as grazing land. That use can continue even post-construction, as is the case in many other solar projects.

“The footpaths on site will indeed remain open and accessible, and as the site is over a milefrom White Coppice, there will be no impact on the area of natural beauty. Importantly, there will be no loss of habitat or adverse impact on wildlife whatsoever. Existing and proposed planting will minimise visibility of the site, reducing the impact of the development from public access points. There will be no adverse impact on long-distance views and the robust Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment we carried out elaborates on this.

“After 20 years the site will be reinstated to its original condition in accordance with a legal agreement that already exists. Solar energy schemes are traditionally far less obtrusive than other forms of renewable energy such as wind farm projects.

“The creation of the solar farm will see an investment in excess of £12m in Chorley but will also create new jobs with additional roles available once the installation is completed for the purposes of operations and maintenance. Planning and other policy guidelines have been complied with throughout and it is hoped that the application will receive positive support once the local community can recognise the benefits it will bring.”

Residents opposed to the scheme have organised a protest campaign.