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Bid for Heapey solar farm on green belt refused
5:04pm Thursday 12th December 2013 in News
PLANS for more than 32,000 solar panels on ‘unspoilt’ fields near Chorley have been rejected as being unsuitable for green belt land.
The proposed £12million solar farm on land close to Tithe Barn Lane, Heapey, could have provided up to 8mw of energy, enough to power 2,500 homes in a year.
However, many residents and local representatives opposed its creation, with fears the rural location would be affected and it would spoil views from nearby beauty spots such as White Coppice.
Almost 500 residents and several groups, including Chorley Residents Against Solar Heapey (CRASH), set out objections that were detailed to Chorley Council’s development control committee on Tuesday.
The company behind the plans, Cassidy and Ashton Group Ltd, claimed the intention was to create green, pollution-free energy with ‘limited’ impact on the area.
The CRASH group set out its case prior to the meeting saying: “We couldn’t think of a worse place in Lancashire to place a solar farm.”
Councillors unanimously rejected the plans after hearing representations from Cassidy and Ashton Group and two objectors.
Opponents included Chorley MP, Lindsay Hoyle, who earlier urged Natural England to designate the site an ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’.
The council also received objections from Lancashire County Council and both Heapey and Anglezarke parish councils.
The applicants claimed that wider environmental benefits associated with the production of renewable energy justified building in the green belt.
Officers disagreed and recommended refusal saying: “Government guidance emphasised the importance of focusing on using previously developed sites.”
Cassidy and Ashton have said it will be examining the decision notice and considering its options.
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