Little Braxted: Officers recommend proposed solar farm be refused



Campaigners against a proposed solar farm in north Essex have welcomed recommendations that it is refused.

Planning officers at Maldon District Council say plans for a 90-acre solar farm at Little Braxted near Witham containing almost 60,000 panels would have “a significant detrimental impact” on the local landscape and have recommended the planning committee refuse the plans when they meet next month.

The solar farm development, which is being proposed by a company called Lightsource Renewable Energy, has generated considerable opposition in Little Braxted for a variety of reasons, according to campaigner Heather Bendall, who is against the plans.

She said: “The main objection is that they want to put it on agricultural land at a time when we are being told we should be growing more crops because of concerns about population growth.

“I also feel the visual impact of the panels is too much and that too much taxpayer’s money is helping to fund this and similar solar farms around the country.”

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Mrs Bendall said the lack of consultation with villagers by the developers has not helped their cause.

She added: “The only time they advertised their intentions they used a free newspaper in Braintree, which is about eight miles away, so none of us got to hear about it. That wasn’t a great start.”

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In the nearby village of Isham’s Chase Mike Logan Wood has also been speaking out against the proposal.

He said: “We’ve been told hedges will be planted around the farm to hide the panels but for six months of the year there will be gaps and we’ll be able to see the panels anyway.

“Witham is only a mile or so away - solar panels should be put on every factory and office roof as well as on every newly-built house. This would be a much more efficient way of installing solar panels and would avoid the use of agricultural land.”

Despite officers at Maldon Council acknowledging a “clear need for renewable energy which weighs heavily in favour of the development” they have refused the application on two grounds.

“The report reads: “The proposed solar farm as a result of the scale and expanse of development of the panels and their visual intrusion would have a significant detrimental impact upon this unique historic enclosed landscape and the setting of listed buildings, which are recognised for their historic and architectural importance.

It continues: “It is not possible to comprehensively assess all of the impacts of the proposed solar farm, because the planning application is supported by inadequate information relating to the impacts on landscape character, access during construction, local wildlife interests in respect of the proposed connection to the national grid, sustainable drainage and glint.”

No-one from Lightsource Renewable Energy was available for comment at the time of going to press.

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