24th November, 2014.
The planning committee are due to meet at Borough Hall to determine the application. If you do not agree that this is an appropriate site for this development we strongly suggest you attend the meeting. (If you or neighbours need help with transport, please contact us through this website in order that we may arrange help).
17th November, 2014
Four councillors and three planning officers visited the site from 9.30 a.m. as well as some local homes and the Prosolia solar farm at Rookery Farm, Stow Longa, Cambs.
20th October, 2014
After hearing the speakers and some discussion the planning committee decided to defer their decision until a site visit had been conducted. The next committee date is 24th November, 2014.
10th October, 2014
Planning officer recommends approval - please read latest news for update
2nd October, 2014
Bedford Planning Committee are due to hear the application on 20th October, 2014 at 6.30 p.m.
If you oppose this application it is important that you attend the meeting.
Contact us if you need help with transport or can offer transport.
Update - September, 2014.
Amended and additional details submitted - see planning portal (details of how to access below) for information regarding new and revised documents numbered:
Although time consuming and frustrating to download and digest, those that we have already spoken to cannot believe how little these plans have changed, nor that there is any attempt to listen to local views which are overwhelmingly that this is not wanted here. We would draw your particular attention to the near incomprehensible planning statement prepared on behalf of the applicant in document V39A at the Bedford planning website, and believe that the applicant is continuing relentlessly, simply trying to wear us down.
If you, like us and the majority of local residents do not wish this plan to become reality it is vital you continue to make your voice heard. Leaving it to others could be fatal. Please write, as previously to the Planning Officer with your comments. You must write by 11th September advising that your previous comments stand, stating any additional reasons and highlighting the amended and additional documents where you feel they still fall short. If you prefer you can also comment on line by following the route outlined above.
PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU HAVE NOT YET WRITTEN THERE IS TIME, JUST.
Update - July 2014
Revised application submitted, Ref: 14/00986/MAF
Comments to be received by BEDFORD PLANNING DEPT in writing or by email as soon as possible
Although there are many reasons for this application falling short of planning requirements we outline the key points below:
1. It contravenes latest Government Strategy as per the Solar Roadmaps, Part 1 issued in Oct, 2013 and Part 2, Feb, 2014 and we quote:
"The Solar PV Roadmap set out as one of its four principles that support for solar PV should ensure proposals are appropriately sited, give proper weight to environmental considerations such as landscape and visual impact, heritage and local amenity, and provide opportunities for local communities to influence decisions that affect them and gain some form of community benefit".
This is clearly not a good fit with this application.
2. National Policy
Government supports renewable energy but local authorities must ensure adverse impacts are addressed satisfactorily, including cumulative landscape and visual impacts. It cannot be done here.
Planning Practice Guidance for Renewable and low carbon energy:
- focus large scale solar farms on non agricultural, previously developed and non agricultural land, if it is not of high environmental value.
- where Greenfield site proposed, must be on poor land.
- take into account visual impact on landscape and neighbouring uses.
- the potential to screen reducing impact using indigenous species.
The application fails on all of the above.
3. Local Policy
Bedford Borough Council promotes in its Core Strategy and Rural issues plan 2008:
- Protecting the countryside for its own sake, preventing the joining of settlements, ribbon development, piecemeal development of villages and promoting rural restraint.
- Focusing development needed to sustain rural communities on the built up areas of villages.
Policy CP13 all land outside the settlement area is defined as countryside.
Policy CP21 all new development should fully consider the context within which it will sit and the opportunities to enhance the character and quality of an area and local distinctiveness.
Policy CP23 the development will be required to protect and where appropriate enhance:
- Conservation areas, listed buildings, and other important archaeological and historic features.
- The cultural assets of the borough including its landscape in order to underpin sense of place and cultural identity and promote quality of life.
Policy CP24 new development should protect and where appropriate enhance the quality and the character of the landscape. The nature and scale of development should be appropriate within the wider landscape.
Policy BE7 is saved from Bedford Borough Local Plan 2002 – the criteria to be used for assessing renewable energy schemes:
- The immediate and wider impact of the proposed development on the landscape.
- The need to protect features and areas of natural, cultural, historical and archaeological interest.
- The measures that would be taken, both during and after construction, to minimise the impact of the development on the landscape, local land use and residential amenity.
- The wider and local benefits the proposal may bring.
- Any requirement for future restoration of the site.
The application does not meet these criteria.
NB The government roadmaps referred to above also refer to the Solar Trade Association-Solar Farms 10 Commitments as follows:
"Solar farm developers, builders or tenants who are members of the Solar Trade Association will comply with the following best practice guidance:
1. We will focus on non-agricultural land or land which is of lower agricultural quality.
(This is a mixture of Grades 2, 3a & 3b - even better quality than the previous application - it should continue to be used to grow much needed domestic food).
2. We will be sensitive to nationally and locally protected landscapes and nature conservation areas, and we welcome opportunities to enhance the ecological value of the land.
(What can be better for the ecology, as the site is now? Or with 68,000 solar panels squashed onto the fields? It would appear as an alien, industrial landscape joining two villages and be detrimental to listed buildings (homes & churches), footpaths, bridleways, local vantage points and the general tranquility of this rural area of North Bedfordshire).
3. We will minimise visual impact where possible and maintain appropriate screening throughout the lifetime of the project managed through a Land Management and/or Ecology plan.
(How can this site, on rising land be screened 12 months of the year from day 1 with many listed buildings, footpaths, public amenities, residential properties, other vantage points and roads higher than the site? Why would we want to screen the countryside anyway?)
4. We will engage with the community in advance of submitting a planning application.
(The developers, Prosolia UK Ltd & their planning agent, Dulas conducted an "exhibition" in one of the villages affected by the proposals).
5. We will encourage land diversification by proposing continued agricultural use or incorporating biodiversity measures within our projects.
(Agriculture cannot be continued and the proposal is looking for change of use to Industrial).
6. We will do as much buying and employing locally as possible.
(Prosolia are Spanish owned, panels come from China - negating any carbon omission reduction benefits and not offering any benefit to trade or employment locally).
7. We will act considerately during construction, and demonstrate ‘solar stewardship’ of the land for the lifetime of the project.
(There is no clear plan in place to identify who will manage or indeed own the solar farm - please also research the financial position of Prosolia UK Ltd - www.companieshouse.gov.uk).
8. We will seek the support of the local community and listen to their views and suggestions.
(This has not happened - there is overwhelming evidence of locals being against this application, as with the previous. The returned questionnaires have been incorrectly used and analysed).
9. We commit to using the solar farm as an educational opportunity, where appropriate.
10. The end of the project life we will return the land to its former use".
(How can anyone be sure of what will happen in 25 years time - just think of what has been invented in the last 25 years - could this have been foreseen?)