THE COMPANY behind a 28-acre solar farm on the outskirts of Oxford has been rebuffed by a campaign group after suggesting the pair worked together.
Lightsource Renewable Energy, which wants to build the farm between the villages of Beckley and Elsfield, welcomed criticism from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), which said it would be harmful to the Green Belt.
The Oxfordshire branch of CPRE objected to the plans, which could generate enough power for more than 1,400 homes, saying it was an “unnecessary loss” of agricultural land.
Lightsource said it welcomed the advice of the campaigners and stressed its aim was to avoid long-term harm to the landscape.
Planning and development director Conor McGuigan said: “We take our responsibilities to the communities that host our solar farms very seriously.
“We are keen to work alongside them wherever we can – taking advice from local councils, wildlife groups and other interested parties.
- Managing director Greig Box Turnbull to leave Oxford United at end of season
- Companies still signing up for jobs fair at Oxford Town Hall
- Hundreds will gather as soldier killed in Iraq is repatriated
- Staff and students celebrate actress's big win at the Golden Globes
- Inquests opened into death of couple who died in cottage fire on Blenheim Palace estate
“We therefore welcome the views of the CPRE.”
He added: “Our aim is to always integrate our solar farms into the landscape without causing any long-term harm to the character of the local area.
The company also said the site would save 2,400 tonnes of carbon emissions each year, the equivalent of taking 549 cars off the road.
CPRE Oxfordshire chairman Michael Tyce rejected the olive branch and said there was no scenario in which it would support the plans.
He said: “The protection of the countryside just isn’t something to compromise.
“There is just no balance between the loss of agricultural land for at least 35 years – particular with our food production and self-sufficiency struggling – and the generation of electricity for a few months a year.”
Mr Tyce said the CPRE would only support solar panels on roofs in the city.
He said: “It overlooks Oxford, which has plenty of existing buildings and roofs that could easily be used to generate electricity.
“We would have no objections to that use of solar energy.”
In 2012, proposals for a 74-acre solar farm, estimated to potentially generate power for 3,000 homes, were put forward at the same farm by a different company, ADAS.
The firm dropped the plans, for Green Belt land between Beckley and Barton, in February 2013 after negative feedback from South Oxfordshire District Council planners.
The consultation deadline for the Lightsource Renewable Energy plans is Friday, August 7.
Comments can be made at southandvale.gov.uk and by searching for P15/S2202/FUL.
A decision is expected on September 30.