The Interim Development Manager presented the report. He reported that Environmental Health and the Highway Authority had no objections and required no conditions. He recommended approval of this application as set out in the report, with an additional condition to require the removal of the panels, mounts and associated equipment after 25 years or earlier if they are no longer required for the generation of electricity. The site would then be required to be restored to its condition prior to the implementation of the permission.
Councillor A Brown, the local Member, stated that the proposal had only come before the Committee due to the scale of the development. The site was in a remote location, well away from any residential properties and concealed by landscaping on more than one side. The proposal was compliant with Policy SS4 and in accordance with the Council’s Corporate Plan in that the scheme would supply the applicant with a significant amount of renewable energy. He considered that this application demonstrated that it was an entirely sustainable development for the large farming operation. He was pleased that a time limit condition was to be added. He understood that conditions would be included in respect of lighting and security systems, and that satisfactory fencing details had now been submitted. He stated that he was on record on the public website in support of this application, but his comments had not been included in the report. He referred to the support from Stody with Hunworth Parish Council and also Edgefield and Briston Parish Councils, and the lack of objection from local residents and consultees. He supported the Officer’s recommendation.
The Chairman asked if there had been any response with regard to lighting.
The Interim Development Manager explained that no lighting was proposed as part of this application and the proposed conditions would require details of lighting to be provided if it were required at a later date.
Councillor G Mancini-Boyle requested information regarding recyclability and lifespan of the panels.
The Assistant Director of Planning explained that whilst he appreciated that these were important questions, particularly in the context of the Council’s declaration of a climate emergency, they were not material planning matters that could be taken into account when considering this application. At a later stage in the meeting, he undertook to explore this matter with the applicant following the meeting and provide an update.
Councillor N Lloyd considered that this was exactly the type of scheme that the Council should be promoting, and proposed the approval of this application.
Councillor P Heinrich stated that there was a need to encourage small scale green energy schemes as far as possible. He considered that this proposal was well thought out and appeared to be highly effective in addressing the applicant’s needs. He seconded the proposal to approve this application.
In response to concerns raised by the Chairman regarding permeable deer fencing and possible harm to the animals or the equipment underneath the panels, the Interim Development Manager explained that the fencing was permeable to allow small animals through but deer would not be able to enter the site. The equipment underneath the panels were inverters to convert the current from DC to AC.
Councillor R Kershaw added that the same fencing had been used in a solar energy scheme at Scottow that had been place for 10 years, with no incidences of harm to animals.
It was proposed by Councillor N Lloyd, seconded by Councillor P Heinrich and
That this application be approved in accordance with the recommendation of the Assistant Director of Planning, to include an additional condition to require the removal of the panels, mounts and associated equipment after 25 years or earlier if they are no longer required for the generation of electricity.
Councillor C Stockton attended the meeting for the following item, having been unable to join the meeting for the earlier items.