Birchall Green Farm, Sinton Green, Hallow, Worcester, WR2 6NT
Area 21 ha (52 acres) 46,170 panels – Planning Ref : 21/01846/FUL
The Birchall Green Farm solar development would have been smaller than the proposed North Dairy Farm ‘major’ development. Still, its rural location, and the harms identified to the settings of its surroundings, are pertinent – as are the Planning Officer’s considerations. and decision
ALIEN AND DISCORDANT
The Expert Planning Officer concluded that overall, the proposed solar development would be an alien and discordant feature within the pastoral setting, and would be harmful to the setting of the heritage assets, which would not accord with national policy and weigh significantly against the proposal.
LESS THAN SUBSTANTIAL HARM – SIGNIFICANT WEIGHT
The ‘less than substantial’ harm to the ‘settings‘ of the heritage assets weighs significantly against the proposal. He noted that the availability of a nearby grid connection is not a factor of any particular weight in the determination of the overall planning balance.
INTRINSIC CHARACTER AND BEAUTY OF THE COUNTRYSIDE
He also pointed out that the need for renewable or low-carbon energy does not automatically override environmental protections, and although the site does not carry any form of landscape designation, the Framework identifies a need to recognise the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside in general.
UNDEVELOPED RURAL CHARACTER
He concluded that the proposal would result in negative harm to the users of the footpaths and visitors to the area, whose perception and experience of the landscape tranquillity would be appreciative of its undeveloped rural character.
He stated: “The adverse impacts cannot be addressed satisfactorily on the site given the scale of development and the undeveloped character of the locality. The suggested planting mitigation measures would not be out of keeping, rather the associated semi-industrial presence would not be adequately addressed.”
At the heart of the National Planning Framework is a presumption in favour of sustainable development which has three interdependent dimensions – economic, social and environmental. In light of the harmful environmental impacts identified. The proposal would not represent sustainable development. When taken together, and considering the leisure and recreational use made of the surroundings by visitors, the development would, on balance, outweigh the public benefits of the scheme.
Here is the Officer’s Report in full.
Grimley Solar Farm Action Group