Inspector called in after solar farm row flares up

Shacks Barn solar farm, Whittlebury.'130410M-B533
Shacks Barn solar farm, Whittlebury.'130410M-B533

A consultant has said a more sensible and efficient solution could have been found after permission for a £6million 
solar farm, which is up and running producing emission-free energy, was refused.

Last week members of the South Northants planning committee went against their officers’ advice and turned down a retrospective application for the Shacks Barn Solar Farm, near Whittlebury.

The firm behind the bid, Indian technology company Moser Baer, is drawing up an appeal against the decision.

The solar farm had been given full planning permission only for construction to be suspended after building inspectors discovered panels were being built closer together than in the approved plans

An SNC officer’s report said with less open space between the rows of panels there were fewer straight lines, reducing the visual impact. But, councillor Dermot Bambridge, ward member for nearby Silverstone, said the visual impact was a matter of opinion and asked for the planning committee to refuse the retrospective permission. He said without the gaps it looks like a ‘great big expanse of grey plastic.’

Mr Bambridge said they could not let developers ride roughshod over the planning process, adding: “We’ve got to make a very strong stand. Once permission is given, it is for that scheme and for that scheme only.”

Consulting project manager Jay Mitra said they did not believe there were material differences between the two plans and added: “I don’t think this was the most sensible way to resolve the issue.”