Wiltshire Council blocks 12MW solar farm plans

Wiltshire Council has refused planning permission for a 12MW solar farm to be constructed by Sun Edison one mile away from a controversial solar array.

Sun Edison had sought to build the solar farm in Little Chalfield, next to several listed buildings and adjacent to the Norrington Solar Farm which is currently threatened with dismantlement after it had its planning permission retrospectively withdrawn.

The solar energy giant had planned to develop the site with Solar Planning Limited but fell foul of Wiltshire Council throwing out the plans, a move which was this week upheld by the Planning Inspectorate.

Inspector Brian Cook’s report claimed the development would have a significant impact on the “landscape character and appearance and the setting of the heritage assets in the area”, and concluded that the impacts outweighed the potential benefits of a renewable energy site.

The plans were opposed by as many as 100 local residents and English Heritage also submitted an opposition, echoing concern that the site would be less than a mile away from the Norrington Solar Farm at Broughton Gifford.

In March Norrington Solar Farm, developed by Sun Edison’s yieldco Terraform Power, was stripped of its planning permission by the High Court after it was challenged by the owner of nearby Grade II-listed building Gifford Hall.

Mr Justice Dove, who presided over the decision, ruled that Wiltshire Council had been wrong to grant planning permission without consulting properly with Gifford Hall and English Heritage, however TerraForm subsequently confirmed that it would be appealing the decision.

A spokesperson for Sun Edison said: "We are disappointed with the Planning Inspectorate’s decision as the Little Chalfield solar farm had the potential to generate enough low carbon electricity to power around 2,500 homes and contribute to the Government’s solar strategy. SunEdison will continue to develop its pipeline of projects across the country in order to provide more clean energy to the UK.”

This story has been amended from the original to include comment on the decision from Sun Edison.