MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF OULTON PARISH COUNCIL
held on Thursday 9th July 2015
1. Present: Mr. P. Killingback, Mrs. S. Harrison, Mrs. S. Mather, Mr. A. Nash,
Ms. N. Poole, Ms. A. Shaw.
Apologies: Mr. G. Peck
Also present: Mr. M. Harrold and Mr. O. Harrold, Mr. E. Perrin(Solarcentury) and a number of
2. Minutes: The minutes of the Annual General Meeting held on the 12th May
were signed and approved.
3. Declarations of Interest: There were no declarations of interest.
4. Matters Arising: The playground inspection has been arranged with the invoice
and report being sent to the Clerk.
Box Day made a profit of £122. Susan Mather thanked all those who had helped.
Two volunteers would be needed for next year to run Box Day. Ms Poole and Mr Nash agreed to consider this.
5. Planning Application 20150952 for Solar Farm at Oulton Street: The
Chairman adjourned the Parish Council meeting, giving members of the public – including the applicant Solarcentury and the landowner, Mr Harrold – an opportunity to speak. Please refer to the separate notes of this part of the meeting for details.
The Parish Council meeting was then re-convened for the councillors to debate the application.
All councillors were worried about the uncertainty as to what would happen with the second phase of the site, and that this phase of the development could be sold on by Solarcentury to a third party. If the application was to proceed, they would have preferred the site to be dealt with as a whole, i.e. as a 10 MW site rather than two 5 MW sites, in order not to effectively extend the lifetime of the site.
One councillor was concerned about the energy efficiency of these panels in this northerly location and pointed out that Solarcentury had confirmed in May that the load factor (or likely output) of the whole site was only 12 – 13% of 10MW. Because of this inefficiency, the actual benefit of Phase 1, in terms of potential renewable energy, using approximately 20 acres of land, was only 650 kilowatts. Councillors struggled to see that such a small amount of electricity generated outweighed the loss of approximately 20 acres of land for food production. They also remained unconvinced that wild flowers will survive without significant maintenance and they were concerned that there was no guarantee that sheep will graze – which would at least have maintained an element of farming practice on the land.
The PC did acknowledge that the site was unobtrusive and well screened. However, the inhabitants of the Railway Crossing Cottage would have to suffer during the construction phase and the PC has received confirmation of their objection to the proposed application.
The PC was aware of revised government planning guidance issued in March 2015 regarding solar farm development on arable land. This guidance strongly states that any such development should only be on poorer quality land. This proposed development is on grade 3a or 3b land, which has been successfully producing crops for many years.
As a result of this discussion the Chair of the PC proposed three motions to the members:
(i) that the Parish Council should support the application. All members voted against.
(ii) that the Parish Council should not object – 2 councillors voted in favour, 4 against.
(iii) that the Parish Council should object to the application on planning grounds – 4 voted in favour, 2 against. This motion was carried.
It was agreed that a letter would be drafted to BDC, and circulated to all councillors for their approval, stating the Parish Council’s objection to this proposal on the grounds that the application appears to contravene Government guidelines; that the loss of agricultural land is not offset by the amount of electricity that would be generated; that there is significant uncertainty as to who would own or control the second phase; and that the phasing of the project would extend the lifetime of the proposal beyond that stated in the application.
6. Financial Matters: There were no financial matters.
7. Any Other Business: A “Noticeboard” heading will be set up on the village
website to advertise local events.
8. Date of the next meeting: This will be held on Tuesday 8th September