Botley West Solar Farm – where’s all the info?
1st December 2022
View from a Hanborough resident’s garden over proposed solar farm site
With just a couple of weeks to go on the first round of consultation on the Botley West/Blenheim mega-solar farm, campaigners are asking ‘where’s all the info?’
Developers PVDP are currently holding preliminary consultation events on the proposed 1,000+ hectare solar farm, spanning swathes of land from north of Woodstock through to Cumnor.
However, with just a few site maps available, CPRE Oxfordshire is questioning why more information is not yet forthcoming.
Helen Marshall, Director of CPRE Oxfordshire:
“When the consultation started, there were just three high level maps available on their website. More maps have now been added, but there is very little narrative or detail about what might be proposed.
“For example, we don’t know whether Blenheim Estate/PVDP has not yet done any environmental assessment work or whether it just does not wish to share the outcome. Either way, it’s not particularly helpful.”
The size of the solar farm means that it would come forward as a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP). The only other NSIP in Oxfordshire is the proposed Strategic Rail Freight Interchange near Ardley. A look at their website – www.oxsrfi.co.uk – shows they provided much more detail at a similar stage, including preliminary environmental reports.
Helen Marshall said: “We will be responding to the consultation, but only at a high level to outline key concerns and issues, which we think is appropriate given the lack of information currently provided.”
CPRE Oxfordshire is concerned about the cumulative impact of the Botley West/Blenheim proposals, which would mean losing 10km2 of agricultural land, almost entirely within the Oxford Green Belt, and industrialising this rural area. This is despite experts saying only 1% of Oxfordshire’s land is needed to meet climate commitments, meaning that there is scope to be selective about where development is located.
CPRE Oxfordshire continues to call for a county-wide strategy for renewable energy, to ensure we get what is needed quickly and in the most appropriate and least damaging locations, prioritising brownfield sites and rooftop renewables.
The PVDP site is: www.botleywest.co.uk The Phase 1 ‘Community Consultation’ deadline has been extended to 22 December. Our final response can be downloaded below.