Resident's fury as potential solar farm crops up without consultation - The Evesham Observer

Resident's fury as potential solar farm crops up without consultation

Evesham Editorial 20th Jun, 2024   0

A SOUTH LITTLETON resident says he is furious he has not been consulted by Wychavon District Council on potential plans to build a new solar farm next to his historic family home.

Adam Smith, who lives at Sheen Hill Farm, claims proposals have been submitted to the planning authority without his knowledge, adding he thought it was standard procedure for neighbours to be notified on applications.

Mr Smith’s 550-year-old farmhouse which borders Long Lartin Prison is surrounded by agricultural land which until six weeks ago was green and growing wheat. His says his bucolic view of Worcestershire countryside is now under threat because of proposals which only came to light after investigations by the Observer.

After doing some digging of his own, Mr Smith said he discovered a new company Sheenhill Solar Farm Ltd had been set up in February.

Further investigation by the Standard found a ‘screening opinion’ was submitted to Wychavon on March 23 and was closed on May 9. The document is a formal request to a local authority to determine whether a requirement for an Environmental Impact Assessment is necessary before full planning permission is applied for.

Mr Smith, who lives in the vicinity of the SSE 31MW solar project at Littleton Pastures, said: “I am furious a potential solar farm can be proposed to the council on my doorstep and that I was not consulted in any way shape or form.

“How can this be possible?”

He also expressed concerns fields around his property had been sprayed in the spring, which he said was witnessed by his neighbour Spike Hughes and had led to crops dying.

“The fields were lush and green a few weeks ago with crops growing in them. A perfectly healthy crop has been destroyed.

“Maybe it’s just a huge coincidence but either way I don’t want another solar farm spoiling the gorgeous countryside views I have from our home.”

Agents for Sheenhill Solar Farm Ltd, Downing Renewable Developments LLP confirmed they were in the early stages of a new 21 hectare solar project and said should they commit to a potential planning application it would be several years until construction or change to the land use.

A spokesperson said: “If we continue progressing with the early stage development, we will be holding community consultation events to understand the thoughts and feelings of the public about the development and we hope to have more information about this in due course.”

They denied the crops had been killed off and added: “All works so far have been non-intrusive and have not required or forced the destruction or removal of any crops.”

Ciaran Power, Wychavon’s head of development management, said: “The purpose of the current case is to ascertain what level of technical information the applicant needs to submit with any subsequent planning application.

“The process does not require that the council, seek comments from local residents at this stage as the request for a screening opinion relates to procedural process only and not consideration of the planning merits of the case.”

He said the public would be notified in the usual way, allowing appropriate time for comment from interested parties, if and when a formal planning application was submitted.


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