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14/2952/MFUL | Installation of ground mounted photovoltaic solar arrays together with power inverter systems; transformer stations; internal access tracks; landscaping; CCTV; security fencing and associated access gate. | Land Surrounding Walnut Cottages Oil Mill Lane Clyst St Mary
  • Total Consulted: 126
  • Comments Received: 59
  • Objections: 38
  • Supporting: 21
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Oil Mill Lane Residents' Association (Objects)

Comment submitted date: Thu 27 Aug 2015

See letter under document tab on our website

Comment submitted date: Tue 24 Mar 2015

Dear Sirs

PROPOSED SOLAR FARM SHEPHERDS FARM
OIL MILL LANE, NR CLYST ST MARY
PLANNING APPLICATION REF: 14/2952

We note some additional documents have recently been published on the Council's planning website. Some of these appear to be old documents so it is not clear if they have only just been uploaded to the website or if they have just been submitted by the applicant and/or their agent. Either way we would comment as follows:-

1. Kernon Countryside Consultants Limited Agricultural assessment May 2014 (the front page is also dated 10 March 2015)

i) At para 5.4 the author suggests that the proposed solar park "does not therefore constitute significant development of agricultural land" (the framework). This appears to be on the basis that (para 5.2) the site will be capable of continued agricultural use once the panels are in place and that (5.3) the site could "be swiftly returned to intensive agricultural use if required".

Unfortunately the evidence does not support either of these statements.

Indeed the Landscape and Ecological Management Plan March 2015 (also recently uploaded) incorporates specific provision for there to be no agricultural grazing. (see below).

The suggestion that the land could be swiftly returned to an intensive agricultural use is not credible. As explained in para 5.13 the developer of the solar farm would take a long term lease of the land for which the landowner is paid "considerably more than that which the land currently generates as arable land". Having invested considerable sums in developing the solar park there would inevitably be very significant penalties for breaking the lease and reverting the land to agricultural use. In any event it is clear that there would be no financial incentive for the landowner to do so.

Therefore given the scale of the development there can be no question that this development would constitute significant development of agricultural land.

ii) Furthermore at 5.5 it cannot be a credible argument to say there is no obligation for a landowner to farm land in his ownership and suggest that this should somehow justify the use of high quality land for a solar farm?



Co- Chairman: John Barbara, Woodlands, Oil Mill Lane, Clyst St Mary, EX5 1AJ, Tel: 01392 875858
Co- Chairman: Terry Adams, Greendale House, Clyst St. Mary, EX5 1AW, Tel 01395 233433
iii) Equally at 5.7 it is not credible to suggest that because this land has been graded as Grade 2 and 3a it comprises lower quality land than other areas mapped as Grade 1 on the provisional ALC map. Remembering that this land is also mapped as Grade 1 on the provisional ALC map plan there is no evidence to suggest that this land is of any lower quality than any other areas mapped as Grade 1 on the ALC plan. Even if it had been, it misses the point which is that Grades 2 and 3a are classified as best and most versatile land just as Grade 1 is and the reference to seeking the use of lower quality land refers to land not best and most versatile in nature (ie Grades 3b and 4).

iv) At para 5.10 it is suggested that this land would be difficult to farm due to lack of farm buildings and associated infrastructure. At 6.4 it is similarly suggested that the farm is only able to successfully operate due to its relationship with the neighbouring Crealy Farm. These two statements are preposterous. There is no doubt that this land could and would be successfully farmed by other farmers or agricultural contractors. The land is high grade productive agricultural land and would be extremely attractive to any number of farming enterprises in the event that the current landowners decided they did not wish to farm it.

v) The truth of course is revealed at 5.13 where it is explained that the rental income associated with a solar scheme would be considerably more than that which the land currently generates as arable land. This proposal is purely financially driven.

2. Turning to the Landscape and Ecological Management Plan dated March 2015 we have referred already to the reference at par 5.1.4 describing the grassland management within the proposed solar array. This section describes how in Year 1 the newly seeded grassland will be subject to regular cutting, and then from Year 2 (ie for the remaining operational period of the solar farm which will be at least 25 years or so) the management regime explicitly provides for two alternatives.

Option 1 involves low intensity grazing for only 3 months of the year by sheep
or
Option 2 which is simply mowing.

In other words to suggest that this land will continue to have any form of meaningful agricultural productivity is disingenuous at best.

Nothing in any of the further submissions lead us to change any of our objections set out in previous correspondence, in fact they reinforce the reasons for objecting to this application.

Would you please ensure that Members are updated with the contents of this letter which is submitted rather late in the process but only because recently submitted information has come to light.

We trust that this application will be refused for reasons already explained.


Yours faithfully

MR T C ADAMS AND PROFESSOR J BARBARA
CO-CHAIR - OIL MILL LANE RESIDENTS' ASSOCIATION

Comment submitted date: Wed 21 Jan 2015

See letters under document tab on our website

H Tavener-Wood (Supports)

Comment submitted date: Tue 19 May 2015

Dear planning team,
I'm writing with conditional support for the above planning application for a solar PV farm. The condition is that the scheme is part owned by the community as I think this would greatly increase the benefit to the community. Local community members who have invested will receive interest from the project and a larger community fund could be created. This could be achieved by working with organizations such as Exeter Community Energy.
Kind regards,
Hertha Taverner-Wood
1 Taw Vale Terrace
Station RD
Crediton
EX17 3BU

G Wyatt (EXEC Chair) (Supports)

Comment submitted date: Mon 18 May 2015

Comments in support of the 14/2952/MFUL planning application for a solar park at Clyst St Mary

Exeter Community Energy (ECOE) supports the establishment of renewable energy projects in principle as it offers low-carbon solutions as an alternative to our over-dependence on carbon-based energy. Renewable energy reduces carbon emissions and mitigates the increasing climate instability facing us today.

ECOE offers support for this application for the following reasons
o It is not on high-grade agriculture land and will be used for sheep grazing and creation of wild flower to promote bio-diversity,
o Visibility of the solar park will be limited to the surrounds
o A lot of the energy generated will be used by Crealy Park so helping a local business be more sustainable and strengthening the local economy. This also means it is not exporting energy to an already over-full national grid in the SW.
o The proposed support to the local community of 5000 per year and a further 2000 for local schools.

In addition we want to add - a growing number of solar farms are choosing to partner with Community energy organisations as proposed by recent government policy through their Shared Ownership taskforce as a result of their commitment to promoting community energy. Solstice renewables as yet has not made any commitment to do this. We would suggest they investigate this as a possibility which might increase local community engagement and support.

Gill Wyatt (EXEC Chair) on behalf of ECOE, Exmouth, EX8 2JH

S Ranken (Supports)

Comment submitted date: Tue 05 May 2015

As regards the proposed alternative energy project at Clyst St Mary may I add my hope that it goes forward. It sounds good from the point of view of utility, (more energy), the environment (maintaining agricultural land) and appearance, as it will not be an eyesore. Sallie Ranken< Flat 2, 76 Exeter Road, Exmouth EX8 1PZ

M Burton (Supports)

Comment submitted date: Wed 29 Apr 2015

See letter under associated documents

A Riley (Supports)

Comment submitted date: Tue 28 Apr 2015

See letter under associated documents

Ms R Hedley (Supports)

Comment submitted date: Tue 28 Apr 2015

I'm writing in support of the above application for a solar farm in East Devon, for the following reasons.

o The solar farm will contribute to the renewable clean energy availability in the SouthWest.
o It will make the Crealy Adventure Park - a local business - more sustainable energy-wise and suppor the local economy.
o The project will provide continued funding of about 5000 per year for the community to benefit all residents and an additional 2000 for local schools.
o The solar park has no visual impact in the surrounding area and the land where it sits can be farmed.
o It may also increase local biodiversity (more bees, butterflies and other insects.)
o I believe Solstice Renewables has addressed all the concerns pointed out in its previous, rejected, application so there should be no more outstanding concerns.

I hope the Planning Committee approves the application.

Rita Hedley

Mr S Barton (Supports)

Comment submitted date: Tue 28 Apr 2015

I'm concerned to hear that the planning application has been postponed for this excellent development. It looks to be well considered ,in terms of minimal visual impact, positive social impact and of course in it's contribution to the vital and urgent need to decarbonise our society.

I do hope that regressive parties are not having undue influence on the process of this application, and that East Devon District Council will show the leadership that we need on progressing as fast as possible to a less destructive lifestyle. Indeed the move to low carbon opens the potential for a much brighter future with more local employment ,decentralised power ( in every sense) ,cleaner air and less noise, etc pollution, along with better designed housing, mixed developments that reduce the need for quality of life reducing local traffic densities, and safer ,nicer places for children to play and grow up in.

Hoping for a more positive future,

Yours sincerely,
Simon Barton

M Baldwin (Supports)

Comment submitted date: Tue 28 Apr 2015

I would like to show my support for planning application 14/2952/MFUL for solar panels at Clyst St Mary. My name is Maggie Baldwin, 9 Tully Gardens, Sidmouth,
EX10 9TE. I have read the proposal and find that it has been carefully thought out and will still enable sheep to graze on the land and be a haven for wild life.

Regards


Maggie Baldwin

D Bramley (Supports)

Comment submitted date: Mon 27 Apr 2015

Dear Sir or Madam

I refer to the planning application 14/2952/MFUL. I wish to register my support for this project as it provides beneficial renewable energy and good community benefit.
Regards
Dave Bramley
Sidmouth

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