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Controversial solar farm bid goes to appeal

By Western Gazette - South Somerset  |  Posted: November 30, 2012

Jill Lock, Leslie Lock and Kevin Newman of Tengore Lane, near Long Sutton, opposed the solar farm development in the field next door to their homes. The applicant has appealed against refusal of the plan and responses to Bristol Planning Inspectorate must be made by Sunday

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A solar farm plan that was rejected because of the impact it would have on the nearby Battle of Langport site has been taken to appeal.

The application for a 22-acre solar panel array and associated buildings in Tengore Lane, Long Sutton, was refused by South Somerset District Council planners in August.

But now TGC Renewables has lodged an appeal against the decision which will be heard by the Bristol Planning Inspectorate.

The application was refused on the grounds it would adversely impact on the historic battleground.

English Heritage said the plan would have “a major detrimental impact” on the setting of the 1645 Battle of Langport. The Battlefields Trust was also opposed to the application.

Roy Amner, director of TGC Renewables, said: “We undertook significant work to mitigate any potential visual impact of the site on the battleground and felt that the planning decision did not properly consider our demonstration of that fact.

“For this reason, we chose to seek the opinion of the inspectorate.”

Residents living near the site also objected to the plans, which included security fencing and CCTV cameras.

Les Lock, who lives nearby, said the site would look like a ‘prison camp’ which he would be forced to live next to for the rest of his life.

When the application was refused, Mr Lock said he would not celebrate victory prematurely as he expected there would be an appeal.

He said: “If this application is approved it could be there for 25 to 50 years.

“If you are 60-years-old, retired, and have lived here all your life like me, it does have a major impact.

“I personally don’t want it but the fact that it is next to the Battle of Langport site means that people who are interested in history have their own reasons for opposing it.

“This is a unique location and I think they are finding it more of a struggle than they thought.

“We could have yet another round of this if they lose the appeal and submit another application.”

Strong objections were also received from Long Sutton Parish Council and all adjacent parish councils, who were concerned about the industrial scale of the development and its impact on the rural and historic character of the area.

A spokesman for South Somerset District Council said: “We can confirm that the application has gone to the Bristol Planning Inspectorate and the deadline for observations to be received by the Inspectorate is Sunday.

“As yet, no date has been set to inspect the site.

“Notwithstanding the level of information submitted, the proposed development of nine hectares of solar panels would result in substantial harm to the setting of the registered battlefield, its archaeology, and have a detrimental impact on landscape character.”

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