Solar developer Kinetica Solar has slammed a lack of transparency and consistency over planning applications after its plans to construct a 22MW solar farm in North Tawton, Devon, were refused earlier this month.
West Devon Borough Council issued the verdict on 8 January, arguing that the development would result in the temporary loss of grade 2 farmland – which it dubbed a “rare resource” in West Devon – and claimed it would have an “unacceptably adverse impact” on the visual amenity of the site.
Kinetica had dubbed the site an “Eco-Park”. The plans comprised a 22MW solar farm that would feature an education centre, enhanced public footpaths, wildflower meadows and animal habitats.
The developer initially submitted planning documents in October 2014 before amending plans in July last year.
A spokesman for Kinetica told Solar Power Portal that the company “naturally disappointed” by the decision reached by the planning officer, adding that the company had “worked tirelessly” with local stakeholders to “deliver a high quality renewable energy scheme”.
However Kinetica reserved particular criticism for planning regulations in general and a perceived governmental double-standard over renewables and fracking, a subject which has been discussed previously.
“It is right and proper that any scheme of this type is subjected to the appropriate checks and balances at local government level. However, perhaps now is the appropriate time for a debate on why central government has chosen to marginalise the renewable industry in favour of carbon intensive technologies such as fracking or diesel generation. Or perhaps, why when its stated aim is to reduce household energy bills, the government prefers the more expensive nuclear Option.
“Until there is transparency and consistency from central government we cannot expect clean energy projects such as the one proposed in North Tawton to compete on a level playing field,” the spokesman added.
While solar farm applications have been known to face lengthy delays, some as many as up to three years, last year the Department of Energy and Climate Change collaborated with the Department for Communities and Local Government to enact new processes to speed up planning applications at local government level as part of a bid to fast-track shale gas developments.
It is not yet clear whether Kinetica Solar intends to appeal West Devon Borough Council’s decision.