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Residents' concerns over Sulhamstead solar farm plan

Proposal is for 17,820 panels which could provide power for 1,000 homes

John Herring

Reporter:

John Herring

Contact:

01635 886633

photovoltaic panels

RESIDENTS in Sulhamstead have said they have been kept in the dark over plans to build a solar farm in their village.

Mulbrick Clean Energy LLP has applied to install approximately 17,820 solar panels on land to the north and south of Stud Farm, Sulhamstead Abbots.

Twenty car parking spaces, an electrical substation and a 2m high wire fence are also proposed for the site, which is currently used for grazing.

The applicant said the field is a suitable location for the solar farm, owing to the fields ‘gently southern sloping gradients’, which it says will have a peak capacity of 5MW, equivalent to approximately 1,000 homes.

Mulbrick adds that one of the most significant benefits of the development would be the generation of clean electricity from renewable sources, while allowing grazing use to continue.

“From the land owner’s perspective, a low yielding field can continue with its current use while providing a diverse, secure and stable additional income stream allowing for reinvestment in to the local economy,” it said.

Residents have had a mixed response to the application, with 12 representation letters (10 opposing and two in support) submitted to West Berkshire Council’s planning department. 

Strongly objecting to the proposal is Marian Cade, whose cottage lies immediately opposite the southern field, who said the site is located in the heart of a rural scene enjoyed by walkers and cyclists.

She said: “We have chosen to live in a rural area, we have worked to financially pay for the pleasure of this. We did not choose or pay to live in the middle of an industrial waste land which is what it will become if this atrocity is permitted.”

However, supporter Nicholas Clarkin said: “We clearly need more clean energy within striking distance of communities and this site would seem as good as one could pick. Ultimately there would be substantial gain and very little impact on the local society.”

Residents have also said that they had not been provided enough notice of the application; being informed on July 18 with all representations having to be registered by August 6.

Chairwoman of Sulhamstead Parish Council, Margaret Baxter, said that residents had expressed great concern over the application, especially surrounding a lack of notification.

She said: “Given the lack of orange signs, and the fact that the application has been submitted at a time when a lot of people have just gone on two week holidays, it seems unreasonable to expect a representative response from the community at such short notice.”

Mrs Baxter has also asked West Berkshire Council to consider extending the consultation deadline.

To view and comment on the application type 15/01649/COMIND into West Berkshire Council’s planning website.

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