(YOU CAN SEE OUR MAP OF SOLAR FARMS IN OXFORDSHIRE HERE.)
The Inspector recognised that the proposed solar farm at Rowles Farm, Bletchingdon 'would cause harm to the Green Belt by reason of inappropriateness and because of the reduction in openness it would involve. On top of that, there would be a limited degree of harm to the landscape.'
Nevertheless, he went on to grant approval because of the 'significant scale in terms of the production of renewable energy' and because it will 'assist the ongoing viability and stability of a rural business'.
Our concern is that this may set a precedent for solar farms in the Oxford Green Belt and in similar locations elsewhere. Recent Government guidance has made it clear that the need for renewable energy does not automatically override environmental protections. We have therefore written to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, and asked him to call in the decision for review.
CPRE believes that renewable energy is desirable in principle, but not at unacceptable cost to the countryside. With so much development planned for Oxfordshire, we think sensible joined-up thinking should allow for significant renewable energy production on roofs and brownfield sites, without the need to sacrifice more of our landsacpe.
You can read our full solar policy here.