A 5MW solar farm proposal in Charlbury, Oxfordshire has been refused planning permission by Oxfordshire County Council.

West Oxfordshire District Council officers recommended that the project be refused as the solar farm would harm the visual amenity of the area. Officers noted that the development would represent “an alien and incongruous feature” for the local landscape.

The proposals were put forward by Sustainable Charlbury, a green community group that aimed to develop the community-owned 5MW solar farm within the Cotswold area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB).

Sustainable Charlbury claimed to have undertaken extensive community consultation on the proposals – with the council recognising that the community group had made “every effort to reduce the impact of the proposed development where possible”.

The council received 58 letters of support for the scheme, with locals praising the scheme’s carefully selected site, the ability of the site to generate non-polluting energy and the financial returns available to the community.  

In contrast, 23 letters of objection were received in relation to the application, complaints raised by local residents included: concern that the sun’s reflection from the solar panels will create a hazard for motorists, fears that biodiversity will not be improved; and that there was no evidence that the solar farm will be saving any CO2 emissions.

The 12-hectare site was predicted to generate enough electricity to supply 1,100 local homes, returning 5% to investors in addition to generating an annual community fund worth £100,000.