Solar farm plans for the Green Belt in Thriplow get a red card

The group have been campaigning against the plans for more than a year

The group have been campaigning against the plans for more than a year - Credit: Archant

Plans to build a solar farm in Thriplow have been rejected after a backlash from the community.

South Cambridgeshire District Council’s planning committee voted unanimously to block building plans on a site east of Church Street as it sits on Green Belt land and would block access to a path running between two villages.

The rejection is a rare success story for campaigners – a series of farms have been built in the area in the last few years.

When the planning application was first put forward for the farm in Thriplow, protest group Residents Against Thriplow Solar Farm, also known as RATS, was formed to rally against plans.

Concerns were raised that the farm would block access to a path running between Thriplow and Heathfield, and would cause harm to wildlife in the area.

RATS member Mark Brogan said: “We got flyers distributed around all the houses telling people the facts – that the plans represented the antithesis of the aim of Green Belt land.”

Councillor Peter Topping championed the decision made by the planning committee.

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He said: “People worked hard to protect their green space and so credit to them for saving it.

“Green Belt is Green Belt for a reason.

“For the people of Heathfield this was their green space, and you’ve got to protect it. The whole openness of that area, where people walk, run and cycle would be closed down with a solar farm.

“There isn’t a lot in Heathfield and so people in that estate use the area.”

The rejection may spark the end of a spate of solar farm planning applications in the county.

From early next year, subsidies for solar farms will be slashed by the government.

Councillor Topping said: “The subsidies were so attractive that you had companies in Singapore putting up the capital to build solar farms in South Cambridgeshire.

“It was just unaffordable, so the government rightly have cut those subsidies.”