Plug should be pulled on 120-hectare Green Belt solar farm

Nineveh Farm -shot towards city

20th October 2022

CPRE Oxfordshire is demanding that South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) revoke planning permission for a massive 120-hectare solar farm at Nineveh Farm near Nuneham Courtenay on an open and unspoilt Green Belt hillside directly facing the City.

Helen Marshall, Director of CPRE Oxfordshire, said:

“It’s hard to believe how a responsible local authority could have given permission for such an obvious blight on open countryside in the Oxford Green Belt. Not least because it is contrary to their own policy: that renewable energy is welcomed except where it would cause significant adverse to the Green Belt. 

75% of Oxfordshire people believe, with us, that the Green Belt should remain open and undeveloped. This monstrous development, in breach of council policy, should never have received permission in the first place. There is nothing to be lost in revoking the original permission. There is a lot to be gained in saving 120 hectares of precious Green Belt.”

Solar farms must be somewhere, but they don’t have to be everywhere – Oxfordshire needs a proper county-wide strategy to plan sites. Renewable energy is vital but mustn’t jeopardise other critical factors such as food production, biodiversity, and landscape. The Pathways to a Zero Carbon Oxfordshire report, an expert guide on how Oxfordshire can achieve zero carbon, states that only 1% of the entire land surface of the County needs to be used for solar energy which could easily be achieved by using existing roof space, brownfield, or derelict land. There is no possible need to contemplate the Green Belt, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or any productive countryside at all.

SODC now recognise this and have refused a five-year extension to the Nineveh Solar Farm. The same planning committee had previously permitted this huge solar farm development after being incorrectly advised by council officers on both SODC and government policy. Neither the application nor policy have changed: CPRE argue that if the development is unacceptable to Council now then the original planning application is also unacceptable and permission should be revoked.