Residents concerned over new application

Coun Kim Snape and Coun Alistair Morwood with the potential Solar Farm site on Blackburn Road, Whittle-le-Woods
Coun Kim Snape and Coun Alistair Morwood with the potential Solar Farm site on Blackburn Road, Whittle-le-Woods
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A fresh bid to build a hugely controversial solar farm has been made in Chorley.

Residents are outraged at the latest attempt to resurrect plans that were launched last year.

A request for a screening opinion has been submitted to Chorley Council for the site on Gorse Hall sand and gravel quarry, on Blackburn Road, Whittle-Le-Woods.

A planning application was previously submitted last year, however the applicants were told they would need an environmental impact assessment due to another application in Heapey at the time, which was later rejected.

An appeal has since been launched against the decision to reject the application in Heapey.

People are now preparing to fight the new application in Whittle-le-Woods, which will cover 15 hectares.

Chorley Council hopes to make a decision on the screening opinion in the next week.

County Coun Kim Snape, said: “It seems they won’t give up on this site.

“Fingers crossed the council will advise for an environmental impact assessment.

“At the moment we cannot comment on the application as it’s only for a screening, but we will need to wait and see.

“Nobody wants it in the area and we will be ready and waiting to fight this until the end if the applicants decide to submit an application.”

Coun Gordon France, ward councillor for Pennine, said: “Residents have made me aware of concerns about a potential application for a solar farm off Blackburn Road in the site of the old quarry.

“I think this a very rural area and it has been described to me as ‘the gateway to the West Pennine Moors’.

“While I appreciate that without a planning application we can only express our concerns, I feel most residents believed that when the quarry closed it would return to a greenfield site.”

The application was submitted on behalf of the applicants by A E Associates, with no further information provided about the applicants themselves.

Adele Ellis, a planning consultant for A E Associates, said: “We want information to see what is required for the site.

“There is different levels of reporting in the Environmental Impact Assessment.

“We are hoping for a response in the coming week, what we will do will depend on what comes back. Our decision will be determined by what we are told.”

Cassidy and Ashton, applicants of the separate solar farm plan in Tithe Barn Lane, Heapey, has now launched an appeal against Chorley Council’s decision to refuse full planning permission.

The proposals were thrown out in December due to it being a ‘very special rural area’.

Cassidy and Ashton wanted to erect 32,000 solar panels to produce up to 8MW of electricity each year.

Campaigning residents had sent 479 letters of objection to the council.

Council officers had recommended the application be refused, due to the harm to the green belt and visual amenity, as well as concerns about its ecological impact, which councillors sitting on the development control committee agreed with.

Director Alban Cassidy, chartered town planner and environmental consultant at Cassidy and Ashton, told the Guardian: “With the overwhelming requirement for renewable energy to reduce the need for fracking and other more contentious sources of energy, an appeal has been submitted to allow an independent inspector to consider the proposal.”