Go-ahead for solar farm on Lea Marston green belt land

The green light has been given for more than 6,000 solar panels to be installed on green belt Environment Agency land in Lea Marston.The green light has been given for more than 6,000 solar panels to be installed on green belt Environment Agency land in Lea Marston.
The green light has been given for more than 6,000 solar panels to be installed on green belt Environment Agency land in Lea Marston.
Council accepts benefits are too good to miss

The green light has been given for more than 6,000 solar panels to be installed on green belt Environment Agency land in Lea Marston.

Power generated from the panels will be fed into a power station on the site which will be placed next to a proposed electricity sub-station.

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Members of North Warwickshire Borough Council’s planning board approved the plans at their latest meeting even though the scheme will be for green belt land situated between Coton Road and Haunch Lane.

Planning officer Jeff Brown told this week’s meeting: “This is inappropriate development in the green belt but there is limited green belt harm and in balancing that against the benefits we consider that these outweigh the harms so give rise to the very special circumstances needed to support the scheme.”

Luke Coffey, from the Department For Environment, Food And Rural Affairs (DEPRA) urged councillors to back the plans.

He said: “It will deliver a range of benefits associated with achieving carbon neutrality. The proposed project forms part of a wider masterplan for the Lea Marston depot which seeks to further develop and enhance the site in four zones across the site and it is proposed that these will be delivered in a series of phases across a number of years with this being the first.

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“The design has carefully considered the surroundings and is within an area previously used for landfilling associated with the drilling of the nearby lakes. The benefits clearly outweigh the harm to the green belt which is limited due to the current site conditions being enclosed within Lea Marston depot.”

The approved planning permission means 6,292 pv panels will be placed on the land and will generate up to 3MW of energy. The panels are non-reflective and arranged and positioned in an east-west array. They will be approximately 2m tall and can be removed easily when the site is no longer needed. It is proposed that the solar farm will operate for 25 years.

Curdworth Parish Council objected to the plans on the grounds that they constituted green belt development but neighbours Lea Marston Parish Council, while raising concerns over the cumulative ‘urban sprawl’ acknowledged that the development would enable renewable energy generation and that special circumstances existed in light of national infrastructure need.

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