Plans to develop a huge 50MW solar farm on the banks of the River Severn in Gloucestershire have been rejected by a local council planning committee.
Forest of Dean district council threw the plans out earlier this week, citing their potential to cause “significant harm to the rural character” of the area and claimed the developers had failed to submit sufficient evidence on a number of fronts.
The Awre Peninsula Farmers’ Community Solar Scheme, which comprises four farmers who own the land, first submitted plans to develop the site back in May last year and appointed rural property specialists Smiths Gore as the site developer.
The group cited the Awre Peninsula as the ideal location for the project given the difficulty to farm the land due to potential flood risks and it being adjacent to a 132kV grid connection. It claimed this connection to host the only available grid capacity in the local area.
A community benefit fund was established which the farmers’ group said would contribute finance in excess of £100,000 to local projects, however the project attracted significant criticism for local community groups who continued to protest against the site up until this week’s decision.
In its decision, Forest of Dean district council said that the Awre Peninsula was “attractive, distinctive and valued landscape” and that a commercial development of this scale posed a threat to several listed buildings in the area.
The council also criticised a lack of sufficient evidence regarding the location of the farm, claiming the developers had failed to provide information to demonstrate that poorer quality agricultural land had been used and that the farm would not have an unacceptable impact on the land’s character.