Botley West – Consultation -CLOSES 8 FEB

Solar Array

14th December 2023

The current consultation on the massive Botley West solar farm closes on Thurs 8 Feb – have your say! Information and a response form is available on the developers’ website here, or you can simply email your views to:

CPRE Oxfordshire’s response is available at the foot of this page. In it we raise concerns about the inadequate consultation process and call for this consultation to be re-run before the developers submit the project to the Planning Inspectorate. We also highlight the:

  • Significant loss of Green Belt land and the lack of very special circumstances to justify this
  • Need to explore alternatives, based on a rooftops/brownfield first approach
  • Impacts on the historic environment
  • Landscape and visual impacts
  • Impacts on ecology
  • Hydrology and flood risk
  • Long carbon-payback period for the project
  • Loss of Best and Most Versatile agricultural land
  • Impacts on public rights of way
  • Cable routing across the Thames and impact on high value landscapes
  • Need for an Oxfordshire land use strategy, including a spatial strategy for renewables.

CPRE Oxfordshire recognises and supports the urgent need to address the climate emergency, with renewable energy playing its part in this challenge.   However, we should not react to this emergency with an unconsidered developer led approach. The cumulative impact of developments must be considered and we call for an urgent Oxfordshire Renewables Strategy so that the county can play its part to meet the renewables targets set in the Government’s Energy Security Strategy in a way that causes the least harm to the countryside which forms such an integral part of the county we love. 

It is our belief that the Botley West Solar Farm would represent inappropriate development because of its impact on the openness and permanence of the Oxford Green Belt and the cumulative impact on the rural character of a huge swathe of Oxfordshire’s countryside.  We do not believe that very special circumstances exist to justify the development, given that there are alternative approaches that would be much less harmful and yet could still deliver the pathway to a zero carbon Oxfordshire.

This is a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project, it is different to an ordinary planning application.   There is quite a useful summary of the process provided here:

This is the Pre-Application consultation – stage 1 of the process- after which, the developer will submit their proposals to the Planning Inspectorate.

Meanwhile, if you have any information that might be relevant or can offer help or expertise in interrogating the evidence provided by the developers, we would love to hear from you.

Our CPRE Oxfordshire response: