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Battle not over yet for controversial Hampshire solar farm

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The company behind plans to build a huge solar farm between Silchester and Bramley has refused to rule out an appeal after the scheme was rejected by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council.

In a meeting on April 20, the council’s development control committee voted to oppose the plans by a majority of 11 to one, despite its planning officers recommending the scheme for approval.

Councillors raised concerns over the loss of arable greenfield land, the lack of benefit for local residents and the possible impact on the Roman archaeological remains.

Where the solar farm would be built (45541739)
Where the solar farm would be built (45541739)

Speaking after the meeting, Bramley borough councillor Simon Mahaffey (Con) – who doesn’t sit on the committee – expressed his delight for the decision, adding: “It would have massively changed the nature and whole character of Bramley and Silchester.”

However, the battle for the farm – which would operate for a “temporary” period of 40 years – isn’t over yet.

Simon Wheeler, head of development at Enso Energy, the company behind the scheme, said the decision was “very disappointing” and said the firm remained convinced of the benefits of the project.

He said: “It will come as a disappointment to those that understand the pressing need for us to change the way that we get our energy.

“This scheme would have provided enough renewable energy to power over 13,500 homes and significantly improved local biodiversity.

“We remain convinced of the benefits this proposal would provide to the people of Basingstoke and Deane and the country.”

During the meeting, Mr Wheeler had also warned that the plans were robust enough to withstand scrutiny of a planning inspector, hinting that the company would appeal the decision.

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