Planning inspector to rule on Doulting solar panels bid
A SOLAR farm with 22,000 panels may still be installed in Doulting as a planning inspector has been assigned to the case.
Tom Sylger Jones submitted a planning application in August 2012 for the installation of the solar farm with a security fence and associated equipment.
The site includes 13.9 hectares of agricultural land of the south facing slope of Doulting Hill, to the south and east of Bodden and north and west of Doulting.
The application was refused by councillors in January, despite a recommendation of approval from case officer Laura McKay.
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Mrs McKay said the solar farm would have significant environmental and social benefits, and urged them to agree the plans.
Councillors stated the main reasons for refusal as the overbearing visual impact on the landscape and footpaths surrounding it.
Mr Jones lodged an appeal on April 29 and planning inspector Karen Ridge will decide on the outcome.
Following a meeting on Tuesday, supporters and opponents of the plans were taken to the site by Mrs Ridge.
Mary Newman, who supports the application, said: "The scheme is a very good one. It allows for sheep grazing between panels and the panels themselves give out no toxic waste and they don't damage the ground, they can be removed and the ground can be used again.
"There's about a third of the land that the landowner, the farmer, will plant with trees so it will be a lovely landscape and an aid to wildlife."
Some of those against the plan took 2.9m high wooden poles to represent the height of the planned solar panels.
One of these was Stephen Stokes, secretary of the Ingsdon Hill Preservation Society. He said: "We're saying 'please don't put solar panels there'; there are plenty of brownfield sites around.
"When the landowner saw the poles he even said himself he hadn't realised how big the panels would really be.
"We're not against solar panels, we need alternative power sources, but taking agricultural land out is crazy."
A spokesman for The Planning Inspectorate said a decision should be made in early October.