Installation of solar farm and associated infrastructure amended plans and additional details).
Report by Planning Officer (attached).
The Committee considered a report by the Senior Planning Officer (RB) (circulated previously).
The Planning Officer addressed the Committee and advised that:
· Residents of the neighbouring properties had been consulted at each stage.
· The solar farm would have an operational life of 35 years.
· Impact on the roads would mainly be during the construction and decommissioning of the site.
· The application was covered under policy EN1 of the JLDP.
· The land classification was grade 3B and 4 agricultural land (with 1 being excellent and 5 poor) and was therefore permitted for use as a solar farm. The land was actively being used for pasture and it was anticipated that sheep would continue to graze when the solar panels have been installed.
· The panels would be single faced and not bi-faced as previously stated.
· The site would not be visible from any major leisure or tourist attractions in the area. The site would be visible to traffic using a short stretch of the A39 between Bideford and Barnstaple.
· An objection had been received from a neighbour in relation to the lighting and CCTV cameras on site. This was confirmed to be provided by four post-mounted CCTV cameras/lights which would be faced into the site and would be motion-activated.
· A correction to the report was noted – where the figure of 12,700 homes should have been written, rather than 12,7000.
· There were no listed buildings or assets within the site boundary, and no significant impact to any within 2km of the site.
· There were no objections from Historic England.
· The site was within flood zone one.
· Devon County Council (DCC) had no objections in principle.
· A drainage strategy had been proposed.
· Environmental Health were satisfied that any noise could be mitigated to an acceptable level.
· Natural England had no objections.
· Construction materials would be sourced locally and regionally.
· Construction vehicles would be using five different routes to travel to and from the site.
Stephen Jarvis Chair of Fremington Parish Council Climate Emergency Working Party (supporter), Paul Stagg (land owner) and Martin Gear (land owner) addressed the Committee.
The Senior Corporate and Community Services Officer read statements from Graham King (objector) and Ian Robinson (objector) to the Committee.
Dr Philip Bratby, Rebecca Bartleet and Penny Mills (objectors), all of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) addressed the Committee.
Claire Hewitt (agent) and Chris Featonby (applicant) addressed the Committee.
It was noted that Stuart Martin who had registered to speak, was present at the meeting, but unable to address the Committee.
In response to questions from the Committee, the Planning Officer (RB) advised:
The Lead Planning Officer (South) added that there had been no requirement for ongoing monitoring on other sites as the Government guidance stated that any benefit or contribution from solar farms was of benefit. Although an annual report for each of the first five years of operation could be requested.
In response to questions from the Committee, the Senior Planning Officer (RB) advised:
· The lighting scheme would face into the compound and would only light intermittently. There would be considerable screening to the north and good separation between the compound and the neighbouring property.
· Western Power Distribution (WPD) had connectivity to the grid at the location.
In response to a question from the Committee, the Lead Planning Officer (South) confirmed that:
· The community fund was not a condition of the planning application and was administered independently from the planning system.
Councillor Biederman addressed the Committee as Ward Member.
RESOLVED (unanimous) that the application be APPROVED as recommended by the Planning Officer subject to:
a) An agreement being sought with Ward Members for Fremington and Instow on the Construction Environmental Management Plan; and
the Planning Officer being delegated authority in consultation with the Ward Members to review the Landscape and Ecological Management Plan to ensure maximum screening around the two properties.