Developers of a huge new solar farm near Preston-on-Stour have applied for permission to extend its lifespan to 40 years, despite significant local opposition.
Planning permission for the development at Radbrook Pastures Farm has already been granted, but the applicant TGC Solar Radbrook Limited has now asked the council to agree for the solar farm to operate for up to 40 years, rather than the 25 the company were first granted.
The planning committee is expected to make a decision on the plan tonight (10th April).
Should the application be approved, the 39 hectare solar farm could still be producing electricity until around 2060.
The developer has also applied to make a number of changes to the layout of the site, which at peak output could provide power for up to 261,000 homes.
An officer’s report on the application says that 160 letters of objection have been received, including from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and the Group Against Radbrook Solar Plant.
Reasons for objecting to the plan included a lack of justification for extending the farm’s lifespan, fears of environmental harm, the loss of agricultural land for an even longer period than anticipated, disruption to nearby villages and damage to the views from Meon Hill.
However the officer’s report recommends that the planning committee grants the application, concluding that the layout changes would not result in any additional harm to the character and appearance of the landscape.
It states that allowing the farm to operate for an additional 15 years is deemed acceptable in this case.