CPRE Calls for County-Wide Renewable Energy Strategy

Solar farm map

22nd March 2022

CPRE Oxfordshire is calling for a properly thought out strategy for the location of renewable energy, as more of Oxfordshire’s farmland is targeted by solar companies.

With applications increasing dramatically, the countryside charity has published a map showing existing solar installations in the county and those currently under consideration.

See:   Oxfordshire Solar Farms Map, March 2022

Helen Marshall, Director, CPRE Oxfordshire said: “It is time to halt the reckless loss of Oxfordshire’s countryside. Climate change, energy security and fuel prices all mean that increasing renewable energy is vital.  But we also need our countryside for food, wildlife and people’s health and well-being.  We are calling for a county wide strategy so that we get what is needed in the right locations, rather than being at the whim of speculative developers bringing forward whatever sites they can get their hands on.

“We should have solar panels on commercial roofs, new housing developments and brownfield sites, not greenfield sites, and if necessary these should be supported by investment incentives.

“We also think that there is significant potential to increase use of biomass across the county.  In addition we need well-insulated houses, with ground, air or water source heat pumps, particularly in new-build developments.  

“The fact that we are still building homes and commercial buildings that are not zero-carbon is nothing short of scandalous.”

Cumulative impact

CPRE Oxfordshire is also worried about the cumulative impact on particular areas.  For example, two major solar installations have already been approved near Tetsworth in South Oxfordshire and a third is now under consideration. Together, these cover an area equivalent to nearly half the parish of Tetsworth.  See graphic below.

Latest application

The latest application to come forward is near Burcot, South Oxfordshire – a 57 hectare site in the Oxford Green Belt, just a short distance from the controversial 123 hectare site at Nuneham Courtenay that was recently granted permission.

See the planning application here.

The national picture

Nationally, CPRE supports the Climate Change Committee’s ambition for 54GW of solar photovoltaics in the UK by 2035.  CPRE believes this can be achieved without harmful impacts on the countryside, and will vigorously campaign for robust, positive planning policies to make that possible, and against applications that fall short of our expectations.