Decision to approve Melbourn solar farms is ‘appalling’

Two solar farms in Melbourn have been approved, with a further application in Thriplow deferred.

Two solar farms in Melbourn have been approved, with a further application in Thriplow deferred. - Credit: Archant

The green light for two solar farms is casting a shadow over Melbourn, say worried villagers.

Planning permission was granted for two farms to be built at Munceys Farm, London Way and Black Peak Farm, Fowlmere Road, at a South Cambs District Council planning committee meeting in Cambourne last Wednesday.

And a bid to win approval for a third farm to the east of Church Street in Thriplow was deferred by the committee.

Clive Porter, who lives in Melbourn, said: “I’m appalled. The council is insistent on allowing more and more of these. I feel they’re a blot on the landscape and are bringing industrialisation to the countryside. They do very little for our long term energy needs.

“I’m perturbed at the loss of agriculture land. We have a huge population now and we’re only actually growing about 60 per cent of our production needs, as opposed to 70 per cent 10 years ago.

“We cannot rely on other countries for our food.”

The RSPB bird protection charity expressed concerns that the Black Peak Farm site holds one of the highest densities of breeding turtle doves in the county, but said it would be satisfied if promised mitigation measures were put in place.

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Features to be incorporated into the design include roosting opportunities for bats and the installation of bird nest boxes.

Fowlmere Parish Council recommended refusal for the Black Peak Farm application, but Melbourn Parish Council recommended approval for both projects.

Concerns over the impact of the solar farm on archeological sites nearby were initially made by English Heritage and the Cambridgeshire County Council historic environment team.

English Heritage said the farm would cause serious harm to an ancient monument, Bran Ditch, which contains important buried archaeological remains.

The council said it has been working closely with the community to discuss the plans.

Lynda Harford, who chairs South Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee, said: “It was really positive to see that the developer had worked with the local community to shape their proposals and so had secured a great deal of support including that of Melbourn Parish Council and district councillors.

“The impact of development is always a consideration with planning applications and this aspect was addressed through consultation by the developer with Natural England, the RSPB and the county council’s historic environment team.”