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Report: Farringdon Parish Council - Planning Meeting- held on 28th June 2013

Ref:- Planning Application SDNP/13/54507/001 – Installation of 14.9 HA Solar Farm, 5.8 mmv approx. Generating capacity and associated infrastructure including PV panels, mounting frames, inverters, transformers, switchgear, fence and pole-mounted security cameras (on land south of Gaston Lane, Farringdon).

At an open meeting of the Planning Committee of Farringdon Parish Council held in the Village Hall on 28 June 2013, some 44 persons attended, mostly Farringdon residents, but with representatives from Selborne, Worldham, Hartley Mauditt and HCC.    There was a list of FAQs (and answers) precirculated.

There was a lengthy dialogue between those attending and the Planning Committee members.   All speakers expressed concerns about the application being considered.   These covered:-

  1. danger from inappropriate access/egress routes to the site, especially during the construction period, which could not be policed.  Developer’s traffic estimate grossly underestimated
  2. no reassurance about reparation of carriageways damaged by HGVs following construction
  3. lack of complete/detailed plans submitted
  4. unable to accept that there will be minimal visual impact
  5. wholly inadequate consideration given to the local ecological impact (rare birds, newts)
  6. potential danger to children using the Parsonage Close playground adjacent to the proposed HGV and site vehicle route
  7. a similar installation near Herriard was considered most unattractive due to reflected white light.  There was also expressed great disquiet about industrialisation potential, especially an anaerobic digester applied for close by – off B3006.
  8. when told the developer had verbally promised £25,000 to the village if the the plan was approved, this was ridiculed as inadequate.   It was suggested a more realistic figure would be to provide a new village hall.
  9. after the 25 years applied for, would the use of the land be altered from agricultural to brownfield?
  10. “hideous” fencing around the perimeter was likened to a prison camp – “blot on the landscape!”
  11. there was doubt expressed whether there could be perimeter lighting or simply security cameras
  12. at the first Village Meeting with the developer, he stated that if there was opposition, the project would be cancelled.   Is this still true?
  13. with new technology there is no reliable information on adverse effects on neighbouring livestock – especially horses
  14. it was felt there was inadequate provision for screening from all aspects resulting in queries about the lack of consideration about visual aspects from all areas overlooking the site   
  15. there was strong feeling that the land should continue to be used for agriculture.   This attracted many walkers, dog walkers and riders
  16. adverse effects on the prices on many properties in the area without compensation
  17. greatest concern was expressed about future “planning creep” and it was pointed out that originally this project was for two fields covering 30has..  
  18. it was noted that grade 3 agricultural land is much cheaper to rent than sales for housing development.   Developer should consider brownfield sites, such as the roofs of industrial estates in Alton
  19. where is SDNP representation at this meeting?  Though outside its boundary, the site would be overlooked by areas within the SDNP
  20. screening of the site by broadleaf trees is flawed; for four months per year, the site would be clearly visible after the annual leaf drop.  A dangerous precedent


Closed session

In the following closed session the Planning Committee considered:-

GS3:   It was strongly felt that the application failed in all four relevant clauses, vis:-

  1. necessary for farming, forestry, countryside recreation, small scale tourism, etc.
  2. would not harm the overall character, quality, tranquillity and appearance of the countryside
  3. would not harm the intrinsic local character of the landscape, sense of place or local distinctiveness
  4. the type and volume of traffic  generated would not result in danger or inconvenience on the public highway or harm the rural character of local roads

It was felt that the site is inaccessible and wholly unsuitable.   Additionally it was felt that in many areas there is lack of information given to support the application and great concern about future “planning creep”.
          E2:   The Planning Committee was concerned at the lack of input from SDNP.    They are not confident that the conditions of E2 can be met,   Major areas of concern are:-

  1. visual and landscape impact
  2. ecological impact from pollution run-off into Caker Stream and the river Wey – especially (but not exclusively) during construction
  3. accessibility – inadequately addressed by EHDC and HCC
  4. EHDC have a duty to consider the impact on the SDNP – even though the site is outwith the SDNP boundary
  5. there is a strong preference for such a development to be sited on a brownfield site

The Planning Committee was unanimously in favour of the above response and in rejecting the application

Mike Findlay
Parish Clerk
28 June 2013