Secretary of State Rejects Plans for Massive Solar Farm in Rural Northamptonshire

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Plans for a vast solar farm, spanning 70 hectares of rural Northamptonshire countryside adjacent to the village of Gayton, have been thwarted following a definitive denial of planning permission by the Secretary of State. The proposed site, stretching across expanses between Gayton, Rothersthorpe, and Milton Malsor, aimed to harness solar energy on a grand scale, boasting a potential output capable of powering over 13,000 households.

Initially rebuffed by the West Northamptonshire Council back in October 2022, the renewable energy firm Anesco Ltd, undeterred, sought recourse through an appeal process overseen by the government’s planning inspectorate. Despite a recommendation from the assigned planning inspector to greenlight the project, the hopes of Anesco Ltd were ultimately dashed when Minister of State for Local Government, acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, upheld the denial.

A chorus of objections emanated from various quarters during the consultation phase, with dissenting voices including local parish councils, environmental groups, and the Local Highways Authority. Further amplifying the opposition, a local Member of Parliament lent support to the objections, aligning with constituents’ concerns regarding the proposed solar farm.

In refusing planning permission, the Secretary of State articulated concerns over the irreversible impact on agricultural land, citing the inevitable transformation wrought by the installation of solar panels, transformers, inverters, and fencing. Moreover, the visual intrusion posed by the infrastructure was deemed incompatible with the rural landscape.

Of particular significance was the project’s proximity to the Grand Union Canal (GUC) Conservation Area and the Grade II listed Turnover Bridge. The Secretary of State highlighted the potential disruption to the historical and architectural integrity of these heritage assets, concluding that the proposed development would irrevocably alter the canal’s relationship with its surroundings.

However, amidst the disapproval, recognition was accorded to the environmental benefits of the scheme, with estimates suggesting carbon savings of up to 11,000 tonnes annually. The potential for job creation and the promise of reverting the land to agricultural use in the future were also acknowledged.

In the decision notice, the Secretary of State outlined the rationale behind the dismissal, asserting that the cumulative benefits of the proposal failed to outweigh the identified harm to heritage assets. Consequently, planning permission was withheld, delivering a significant setback to the ambitions of Anesco Ltd.

With the door not entirely shut on the matter, a glimmer of hope remains for proponents of the solar farm. A provision exists for challenging the decision through application to the High Court within a six-week window following the issuance of the decision notice on March 13, 2024. As stakeholders weigh their options, the fate of the proposed solar farm hangs in the balance, poised between aspirations for renewable energy and the preservation of rural heritage.

Danielle Trigg
Danielle Trigg
Journalist Danielle is a skilled journalist specializing in regional coverage across the United Kingdom. With her wealth of experience and in-depth knowledge, Danielle dives into the stories that matter to local communities. Her meticulous research and engaging writing style captivate readers, providing them with a comprehensive understanding of the dynamic business landscape. Danielle's commitment to delivering accurate and thought-provoking news sets her apart, making her an invaluable asset to the News Write Ups team.

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