Solar farm appeal thrown out by planning inspector

Solar farm: County Coun Kim Snape at the site in Heapey

Solar farm: County Coun Kim Snape at the site in Heapey

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Campaigning residents were vindicated after a planning inspector backed their opposition to proposals for a solar farm.

The controversial proposals for a 18.4 hectare site on green belt in Heapey were turned down by Chorley Council last year.

But the applicant, Preston architects Cassidy + Ashton, appealed against the decision.

However, planning inspector John Braithwaite dismissed the appeal.

He said that the solar panels, which would be between 2.6m and 3.8m above ground level, would result in significant loss of openness.

In his report he said: “Solar panels are engineered products that have an industrial appearance. They are not, inherently, products that fit into a countryside environment.”

He acknowledged, however, that the scheme would make a significant contribution to energy security.

Coun Paul Walmsley, who oversees planning issues for Chorley Council, said: “We’re delighted the independent planning inspector has agreed with us and dismissed the appeal.”

Now, although the appeal has been dismissed, another set of plans for the same site is in the pipeline.

Alban Cassidy, chartered town planner and environmental consultant at Cassidy + Ashton, said: “We note the inspector’s decision and take on board his comments.

“In particular he stressed the biodiversity and environmental benefits of the scheme.

“However, with regard to his concerns, we believe that the reduction in the scale of the scheme, the additional planting and habitat creation, together with alternative deer-type fencing are sufficient to overcome the concerns raised.”