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Changes To Solar Park Refused By Council

In recent months we have reported about numerous solar panel farms being installed around the country but today we have heard that a council has declined to give retrospective panning approval to a number of alterations that were made to a solar panel farm during its construction.

Solar farms are becoming a more familiar site in the UK
(image credit: mcmees24)

This decision has been made by planning officials from South Northamptonshire Council who have not been prepared to agree to alterations that have been made to a solar panel farm that was nearing completion earlier in the year. This is a large development producing 5MW.

The solar park is located at Shacks Barn Farm close to Silverstone in Northamptonshire and was being constructed by a German company by the name of Conecon. The company had to stop work on the £6 million scheme around the end of March 2013 as the owners, who are called Moser Baer, needed to apply once again for planning approval.
Moser Baer bought the site from Hive Energy around August 2012 that was about the time that planning consent was obtained. Planning approval had been granted based upon information provided by Hive Energy.

However, during the building of the solar park, Moser Baer and the contractor made a few changes to the layout of the scheme. Moser Baer informed the council of the changes that they were making at the same time as the building work was taking place. This was done with a view to meeting the deadline date of 31st March 2013 in order to obtain 2 Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) per MWh as opposed to the reduced rate of 1.6 ROCs per MWh.

This refusal was made on the 11th April 2013 by the Council’s Development Control Committee despite the planning officer from the council recommending that retrospective approval be given to the amended scheme. This decision was made on the basis of “the visual impact due to the prominent and publicly visible location set within a rolling landscape, and the inability of landscaping to soften the appearance. The proposal would therefore be harmful to the character and visual amenities of the area and wider countryside and that this would outweigh the benefits of Renewable Energy Production. “

The alterations included an increase in the number of rows of solar panels with no spaces between the rows, cabinets and support structures were located elsewhere on the site, a number of panels in the eastern corner of the site were removed, site access was changed to the southwest corner and security fencing was realigned.

We wait to hear what will happen next.

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