Date set for Felsted solar farm vote

Willows Green Farm

Willows Green Farm - Credit: DLP Planning.

A solar farm the size of at least 1,140 Olympic swimming pools could be built in Felsted, if councillors pass the bid through next week.

Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee will meet on August 3 to vote on whether to approve Willows Green Solar Farm, a 114 Hectare farm planned near the village.

Clearstone Energy Ltd applied to the council for permission to build the farm in January this year.

But ahead of the vote, neighbouring Braintree District Council has raised “significant concerns” over the impact of the farm, which would sit on the border between the two districts, east of School Road.

The farm would have to be decommissioned after 40 years, after which the land would be returned to its previous use for agriculture, according to a council report.

If approved, it would provide enough clean electricity to power 15,200 homes or 26,000 electric cars.

Additionally, a planning statement submitted alongside the application said it would offset 47,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide, significantly contributing to the council’s 2030 net zero ambitions.

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A section read: “As we switch away from carbon energy sources to renewable energy, the UK faces a real shortfall in energy supply. To do so, a variety of renewable resources will be required, of which solar energy is a major element.”

However, Braintree District Council said the farm could be visible from Great Notley Country Park and recommended Uttlesford hire a landscaping consultant to help mitigate the potential impact.

A section read: “It is considered that the addition of a solar farm in this location, of the significant scale proposed, could have a detrimental and dominant impact on landscape views beyond, particularly when considered cumulatively with other existing developments in the vicinity.”

Drapers Solar Farm, which covers 15.6Ha, borders the proposed site to the west, according to the council report.

The report continues to say the applicant has consulted the local community, including sending out a brochure and invitation for a public consultation event to approximately 1,638 households and 20 businesses.

Uttlesford District Council has seen a number of applications for solar farms in recent months, including a 55Ha proposal in Wimbish which it approved. It has also deferred a decision twice for Cutlers Green Solar Farm, which would cover 52Ha near Thaxted.

The planning committee will meet on August 3 to vote on the latest proposals.