Residents win campaign against solar farm plans

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A round of applause broke out as residents won their fight against plans to build a £12m solar farm in Heapey.

Chorley councillors unanimously rejected the proposal for Tithe Barn Lane at the development control committee meeting held last Tuesday.

It was a victory for residents who had campaigned against the planning application and sent 479 letters of objection to the council.

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

Alban Cassidy, environmental consultant and chartered town planner, told the meeting it would be enough “clean, green energy” to power 2,500 homes.

He said: “These facilities have now become an accepted part of the countryside in Devon and Cornwall.”

But resident Peter Smith argued the site was not suitable for a solar farm as it is not flat, is green belt land and is “highly likely” to be home to protected species of wildlife.

It is thought that great crested newts could be on the land.

He told the committee: “If you accept this proposal then for any future proposals, you have no defence.

“You will have accepted a site that’s totally unsuitable. How then in future would you be able to reject any other site?”

He was supported by Coun Marie Gray, who urged the committee to protect the “very special rural area” by rejecting the planning application.

Council officers had recommended that the application was refused, due to the harm to the green belt and visual amenity, as well as concerns about its ecological impact.

And councillors at the development control committee meeting agreed with their concerns.

Coun Dennis Edgerley said: “To me this is far, far too big an intrusion into our green belt.”

Coun Harold Heaton said: “If we are looking for a site for this type of development, we have to get the right site and I don’t think this is the right site.”

The recommendation to reject the application was unanimously supported in a vote by the councillors.

After the meeting, objector Mr Smith said: “We were always very optimistic that it would be refused.

“It seemed a very ill thought out venture and seemed doomed from the start.

“It had nothing going

for it.”

Applicant, Mr Cassidy, said: “We are obviously disappointed with the decision and are currently considering our options.”