THE ‘alarming’ spread of solar farms on Devon’s agricultural lands has been highlighted by a new map by the county’s CPRE.
In the press release that accompanies the new map the CPRE says: ‘As applications for massive new solar farms on prime agricultural landcontinue to come thick and fast, the Devon branch of the countryside charity CPRE has released a map showing the alarming spread of industrial-sized solar developments across the county.
‘The map shows the number, scale and spread of 65 permitted and pending solar farms of 20+ acres in Devon, and the only major applicationto be refused last December at Marsh Green in East Devon.
‘The nine largest solar farms covering 100+ acres are all within the local authority areas of Torridge, North Devon, Mid Devon and East Devon.
‘Barely a week goes by without one local authority or another in the county considering a solar farm proposal.
‘Next week (Tuesday, March 28) plans for one covering 145 acres of farmland at Whimple in East Devon are being recommended for approval,despite many concerns from the local community.
‘Devon CPRE’s objections are among the dozens so far received against Aura Power’s proposals for land east of Rutton Farm, Rull Land.
‘Among numerous objections submitted to East Devon District Council, Devon CPRE states that 94.6% of the proposed site is graded 3a or 3bland, thereby including Best and Most Versatile (BMV) land, which should be protected for food production.
‘Meanwhile, construction of the massive Litchardon Cross solar farm is underway in North Devon, and Torridge has recently received anapplication for a solar farm and related battery storage on fields at Brandis Corner, near Holsworthy.
‘The developer wants to install 11,600 solar panels, eleven industrial containers with batteries, three sub-stations and other infrastructure.
‘Devon CPRE has objected to the Torridge proposal because of its size and location in the open countryside.
‘The charity believes this would adversely impact the environment for the proposed 40-year lifetime of the solar farm and unjustifiably industrialise a greenfield site when there’s a growing need for our agricultural land to be put to better use producing food.
Devon CPRE Director Penny Mills says: ‘Solar power has a part to play in providing so-called renewable energy but, in a wet climate like Devon’s,covering thousands of acres of productive pasture with glass is not the ‘green’ solution it’s claimed to be – especially when there are plenty of redundantbrownfield sites and rooftops where the panels could be put.’
Devon CPRE trustee and energy spokesperson Dr Phillip Bratby adds: ‘At a time of rapidly rising food prices, we believe that Devon’s farmland should not be covered in solar panels to produce small quantities of expensive electricity at times of the day when it is least needed, but should instead be used to produce high-quality food for local consumers.’
The CPRE spokesperson adds: ‘The publication of Devon CPRE’s solar farm map comes as the national charity CPRE launches its own campaign for solar to be located on rooftops, something the Devon branch has long campaigned for.
‘Regrettably, these arguments often fall on deaf ears because solar farm developers have deeper pockets than our charity to promote their agenda and interests and claim that covering our fields in glass panels and batteries will solve the energy crisis. It won’t.’
CPRE MAP of Devon Solar Farms ( CPRE )
1- Litchardon Cross, Newton Tracey, North Devon
2- Derril Water, Pyworthy, Torridge
3- Pitworthy, Pancrasweek, Torridge
4- Paytherden, Clyst Hydon, East Devon
5- Langford, Cullompton, Mid Devon
6 – Webbery Barton nr Bideford. Torridge.
7 – Two Tree, Old Dean Road, Willand, Mid Devon
8- Coldharbour Farm, Ashreigney,Torridge
9 – Horton, Whimple, East Devon
10 – Marsh Green, East Devon
ORANGE (40-100 Acre sites)
1 – Balls Wood, Brixton, Plymouth
2 – Lower Langage Farm, Plympton
3 – Marley Thatch Farm, South Brent
4 – Bradford Manor Farm, Pyworthy, Torridge
5 – Crinnacott, Pyworthy, Torridge
6 – Foxcombe farm, Hollacombe, Torridge
7 – Upcott Barton, Beaford, Winkleigh, Torridge
8 – Capelands Farm, Bratton Fleming, North Devon
9 – Grange Hill, Bratton Fleming, North Devon
10 – Coombeshead Farm, Diptford, Totnes, South Hams
11 – South Downs, Dartington, Totnes, South Hams
12 – Crannaford, Broadclyst, East Devon
13 – Coombe Farm, Woodbury, East Devon
14 – Great Houndbeare Farm, Aylesbeare, East Devon
15 – Stonebarrow Farm, Hawkchurch, East Devon
16 – Hemerdon, Plympton, South Hams
17 – Rydon Farm, Two Mile Oak, Teignbridge
18 – Sawmills, Ashcombe Estate, Ashcombe, Teignbridge
19 – Beavor Grange Farm, Axminster, East Devon
20 – Higher Hawkerland, Aylesbeare, East Devon
YELLOW (20 – 40 Acre sites)
1 – Barton Close, Georgeham, Braunton, North Devon
2 – Bommertown, Bottreaux Mill, South Molton, North Devon
3 – Kingsland Barton, South Molton, North Devon
4- Collacott Farm, Newton Tracey, North Devon
5 – Bovey Road, Chudleigh Knighton, Teignbridge
6 – Martin Farm, Whiddon Down, Okehampton, West Devon
7 – Willsland, Highampton, West Devon
8 – Tamerton Road, Roborough, West Devon
9 – Land East of Bowdens Farm, Shillingford, Mid Devon
10 – Nether Mill Farm, Willand, Mid Devon
11 – Redhill Farm, Burlescombe, Mid Devon
12 – Bulkworthy, Stibb Cross, Torridge
13 – Derriton Fields Farm, Holsworthy, Torridge
14 – Eastacombe Farm, Clawton, Torridge
15 – Rexon Cross, Broadwoodwidger, Torridge
16 – Gammaton Moor, Alverdiscott, Torridge
17 – Land West of Parsonage Wood, Pyworthy, Torridge
18 – Southlands Farm, Bridgerule, Torridge
19 – Saundercroft Farm, Whimple, East Devon
20 – Strete Farm, Whimple, East Devon
21 – Veiges Farm, Exmouth, East Devon
22 – Wadbrook Farm, Hawkchurch, East Devon
23 – Beechgrove Farm, Hawkchurch, East Devon
24 – Burrowtown Farm, Broadclyst, East Devon
25 – Bystock Farm, Exmouth, East Devon
26 – Francis Court Farm, Poltimore, East Devon
27 – Liverton Farm, Exmouth, East Devon
28 – Newlands Farm, Axminster, East Devon
29 – Newton Down Farm, Newton Ferrers, South Hams
30 – Oldstone Farm, Blackawton, Totnes, South Hams
31 – Parkfield Farm, Ashburton, South Hams
32 – Place Barton Farm, Moreleigh, Totnes, South Hams
33 – Station Road, Tamerton Foliot, South Hams
34 – Blue Post Lane, Halberton, Totnes, South Hams
35 – Hazard Farm, Harberton, Totnes, South Hams
36 – East Rightadown Farm, Brandis Corner, Torridge.