Planning committee recommended to approve controversial solar farm in Fingringhoe, Essex

Solar farm

Solar farm - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Plans for a controversial solar farm on land in Fingringhoe have been recommended for approval by planners in Essex.

The proposal for the installation of about 64,000 solar panels on the 37hectare site near Brook Hall Road in the village is being put before Colchester Borough Council’s planning committee today.

The two-metre high panels would be able to provide enough power to supply 3,692 homes for a year.

Construction would take about four months and the site would be active for 25 years.

The document being presented to the committee says 214 objections have been received in relation to the scheme, including from Fingringhoe Parish Council, with a number of concerns.

Among them were fears about the effect on wildlife in the area, particularly bats and birds thinking the panels are water, the visual impact of the site ruining the countryside and disruption caused by building works. There are also worries the narrow country lanes around Fingringhoe will struggle to cope with construction traffic.

However, the planning report said the proposal would not “have a significant negative landscape impact” and there were no objections from the Highways Agency with regards to vehicle movements.

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As part of their recommendation, planners have suggested conditions be attached to the planning permission, including times when construction work can take place.

This would restrict work to between 8am and 6pm on weekdays and between 8am and 1pm on Saturdays, with none taking place on Sundays or Bank Holidays.

The concern about animals mistaking the panels for water would be mitigated by a condition to make the panels non-reflective.

The report’s conclusion states: “It is recognised that there is a clear and continuing need for renewable energy which weighs in favour of the proposed development and is supported by the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework).

“Local authorities are advised by the NPPF to recognise the responsibility of all communities to contribute to energy generation from renewable or low carbon sources.

“Approval can be recommended with appropriate conditions in place to ensure that sufficient mitigation is provided.”