PLANS to build a mammoth solar farm on the doorstep of a South Warwickshire hamlet have been blocked by councillors.
Despite public opposition, members of Stratford District Council’s planning committee had been set to approve the scheme – the size of almost 39 football pitches – for land at Deppers Bridge near Harbury and Bishop’s Itchington.
But at their meeting on Tuesday (April 8) they refused permission because of concerns about the project’s visual impact and sustainability.
Plans for the site known as the ‘Deppers Bridge Triangle’ – sandwiched between a railway line and the River Itchen – included 45,000 two metre high panels, three substations and a perimeter fence.
The 25-year development would have generated 9 MW of electricity which is enough to cover the entire power needs of around 2,000 homes and up to 6,000 at peak performance.
A ‘buffer’ zone consisting of dense woodland and hedges had been included by applicants Solar Power South Ltd, between homes in Deppers Bridge and the site, to minimise the visual impact on residents.
But despite this 80 letters objecting to the plans were sent to the district council.
Before Tuesday’s meeting, Deppers Bridge resident Hazel Turner, who has lived in the hamlet for nearly 40 years, explained why she was against the proposals.
“We are a tiny community of around 60 houses along what is now a busy road, the majority of which face into the field,” she said.
“There are no facilities at all except one small recreation ground for children, one post box and one phone box which is now a book exchange.
“The environment itself is our facility and the triangle is the heart and soul of the community. It is what makes Deppers Bridge, Deppers Bridge.
“Each and every resident will be affected by it and yet no-one in the hamlet itself or in the wider community will benefit one jot.”
Harbury Parish Council was also opposed to the scheme despite being offered a ‘community benefit package’ equating to around £225,000 over the farm’s 25 year lifespan.
It believed a public exhibition held in Bishop’s Itchington in 2012 was poorly advertised and there has been inadequate consultation with local residents.
Plans for a solar farm at nearby Bishop’s Tachbrook were approved by Warwick District Council in December last year.
The site at Brickyard Barn on Mallory Road will contain around 16,216 panels covering an area equivalent to more than eight football pitches.