Green Belt Solar Farm Refused Time Extension

Nineveh Farm -shot towards city

22nd September 2022

Last night (Wednesday 21st Sept) South Oxfordshire District Council Planning Committee voted unanimously against a five-year extension of the Nuneham Courtney solar farm, a development which they had permitted last December.

This time Committee found that this 139-hectare solar farm, on a hillside in the Green Belt overlooking the City, would be harmful to the Green Belt and therefore be contrary to their own Councils core policy that whilst renewable energy developments were welcomed, they would not be permitted where the Green Belt would be significantly harmed, as it would be here.

Planning permission was granted in December 2021 because Council officers failed to explain that the Councils policy dictated development should be refused, partly perhaps because they were themselves urging Planning Committee to approve it!

This time, CPRE explained the policy and although Planning officers were still urging the Planning Committee to approve another five years, Committee members turned it down unanimously.

CPRE itself welcomes renewable energy and agrees sites need to be established somewhere but not everywhere.

Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxford, a strategy paper which our Councils including SODC have contributed to, says that at the very most 1% of Oxfordshire’s land surface needs to be given over to solar farms. Since 3% of Oxfords land area is already covered with houses and industrial roofs these could be used. There is no reason why solar farms should be sited on the Green Belt, within Areas of Natural Beauty or on land used for food production.

Helen Marshall said “This is good news, albeit the original permission remains, and the site will exist for 35 years. We will keep fighting to ensure that solar farms and other development is kept to the right places and not sites in the Oxford Green Belt. CPRE Oxfordshire continues to call for a county-wide strategy to plan renewable energy sites”.