Solar farm ‘could be thin end of the wedge’

John Bercow at the Beachampton site which could become a solar farm
John Bercow at the Beachampton site which could become a solar farm

RESIDENTS of a sleepy Bucks village have won support from MP for Buckingham John Bercow in their attempts to block plans for a solar farm which they say would blot their rural landscape.

An application for a photovoltaic park on land at Potash Farm, Nash Road, Beachampton, is currently before Aylesbury Vale District Council planners, and has been recommended for approval.

Many residents have written to AVDC to oppose the development, which has been submitted by landowner Mark Howard in association with Kronos Solar Gmbh, the German manufacturers of the panels.

Beachhampton Parish Council has also voiced its opposition, after consultation with the village’s 160 residents, who were almost unanimously against the commercial development.

In its representation to AVDC, parish council chairman Peter Maddox said: “The proposed development provides no benefits to the village. There will be no access to renewable energy and no jobs for local people. In fact, the solar park could damage local business.”

He said both the village pub, The Bell Inn, and Home Farm B&B depend on passing trade from casual visitors such as walkers, ramblers and cyclists, who are attracted to the unspoilt countryside around Beachampton.

He added: “The development only benefits Kronos Solar and the owner of Potash Farm, who we note is an absentee landlord.

“This is a commercial and industrial development on designated farmland in a highly visible location.”

Resident Steve Rumsey said John Bercow was noticeably moved by the potential impact of the proposal when villagers took him on a short tour of the site.

He said: “The effect would be that, instead of the clear view across open fields this would be replaced either by rows of solar panels or by 8ft-high screening.”

Mr Bercow said: “The proposed solar park would be an unneccessary eyesore, blighting the beautiful village of Beachampton, for no benefit to residents.

“It will generate no jobs for local people it could damage local businesses.

“Worse still, it could prove to be the thin end of the wedge, opening up the possibility of further expansion in currently unspoilt countryside. I recently met with residents and promised to support their efforts in opposing the planning application.”

The planning application, number 11/00179/APP, will be decided next Wednesday. It can be viewed on the AVDC website