Local Area Energy Plan for Oxfordshire a big step in right direction

Oxford and around

28th March 2023

Countryside charity CPRE Oxfordshire is claiming a campaign win after its calls for a county-wide renewable energy strategy appear to have been acknowledged.

The Future Oxfordshire Partnership has met to consider a proposal for a Local Area Energy Plan, as part of a broader Pathways to Zero Carbon Oxfordshire (PaZCo) Action Plan.

Helen Marshall, Director, CPRE Oxfordshire said: “At the moment, we are seeing solar farms coming forward in the countryside at the whim of developers – from smaller but still damaging sites such as Noke to the massive 10km2 Botley West proposal.  We need to put local communities back in charge and we are delighted our local authorities seem to be listening.

“The proposed Local Area Energy Plan is definitely a big step in the right direction and we hope it will embed the rooftops first principle.  However, we would like to see a commitment that the Plan is in due course subject to full public consultation.”

The overall PaZCO report sets out ambitious solar renewable energy targets for the county, but overall these would only require a small proportion of Oxfordshire’s land.  CPRE believes priority must therefore be given to rooftops and brownfield locations and supports the proposed action in the Plan to “Develop a collective purchasing approach that supports the widespread deployment of rooftop solar on existing buildings”.

This also confirms CPRE Oxfordshire’s position that our local authorities can and must be selective about any greenfield allocations of solar, particularly avoiding Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Green Belt, wildlife sites and nature recovery areas, and good agricultural land.

Helen Marshall added: “Our land is a scarce resource and it has lots of essential uses beyond energy provision, such as providing food, enabling climate mitigation, and supporting the health and wellbeing of people and nature.   We hope that the Local Area Energy Plan will be a first step towards assessing and balancing these needs and providing a full land use strategy for Oxfordshire.”