Plans for huge Devon solar farm rejected by councillors after public outcry

Local resident Jan Jones was unhappy with the project and campaigned with others to stop it going ahead.

Plans for Devon's largest-ever solar panel site have been rejected by councillors, despite planning officers recommending it go ahead.

Members of Mid Devon District Council’s planning committee voted seven to three to turn down a 150-acre solar panel site with a battery storage facility at Langford.

The scheme had generated vocal opposition from nearby residents who felt it would have a significant impact on the countryside. The council received 150 letters from members of the public, of which the majority opposed the plan.

The original decision on the proposals were deferred in late March pending a site visit.

But on Wednesday 14 July, councillors decided the application should be rejected at a six-hour planning meeting.

Developers said the proposed site was agricultural land of "moderate to poor quality" for farming.

Before the meeting local resident Jan Jones told ITV News she and her husband were "absolutely horrified" by the plans.

She added: "We are not anti-solar power at all... but it was just the size of it and just the impact on the countryside.

"Devon is a beautiful county and it is going to be industrialised by these solar panels."

Jan was supported by the Devon branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) charity.

Speaking at the planning meeting, Devon CPRE’s energy spokesman Dr Phillip Bratby said: “The council's own independent assessment has shown that parts of the solar farm would have a major adverse impact on the landscape."

He said the solar farm would be "a blight" on Devon's countryside and described it as "totally unacceptable" as he called for the council to refuse it.

Jan says she and her husband "are absolutely thrilled to bits" that the application was rejected.

After hearing the plans had been rejected by councillors, Jan said she was “absolutely thrilled to bits" and promised to "continue to campaign against all solar farms in Devon on agricultural land".

"The more I find out about solar farms, the more passionately I feel that we should be looking at other forms of sustainable energy instead of covering our fields in solar panels," she said.

Dr Bratby called the decision a "great result for Devon's countryside, for the local community, for common sense and for local democracy".

He also added Devon CPRE "are prepared to fight on" should the decision be appealed.

"Devon CPRE has lots of experience of appeals and will be thoroughly prepared to fight one, whether it be by written representation, a hearing or a public inquiry", he added.