CONTROVERSIAL plans for another massive solar farm in the Stroud District have been given the go-ahead.

British Solar Renewables Energy has been granted permission to cover almost 160 acres of fields west of World’s End Farm in Clapton near Berkeley with ground mounted photovoltaic panels.

The 50 megawatt solar panel installation, which will be allowed to be there for 45 years, can power up to 12,500 homes and save more than 11,702 tonnes of CO2 emission per year.

The site was chosen due to its ease of connectivity to the power grid which has led to the proliferation of similar planning applications in the area.

Concerns were raised about a similar application which has been approved just over the border in South Gloucestershire.

And Councillor Lindsey Green (C, Berkeley Vale) called on SDC’s development control committee on July 25 to reject the scheme.

She spoke of how her ward already produces more than enough renewable energy and is a net exporter of electricity.

And she echoed the concerns Ham and Stone Parish Council raised regarding the site’s remote location and the pressure construction will add to the tiny country lanes.

She said: “It is always tempting to approve measures associated with carbon reduction ambitions, however we could end up seeing solar panels across the area of outstanding natural beauty, Selsley Common, Rodborough Common and Stratford Park.

“We are not nimbys. I have highlighted the positive role Berkeley Vale already plays in the production of power.

“This application cumulatively with the adjoining now approved scheme in South Gloucestershire is a step too far. It conflicts with national and local planning policies.”

British Solar Renewables’ planning agent said the company’s mission is to create abundant and accessible renewable energy.

“The proposed development represents an exciting project which will produce a significant amount of renewable energy. The site is chosen after meticulous search of land and data available.

“There are no other available sites that would have been able to accommodate this development.

"It’s a temporary installation and following decommission the land would be restored to its original state.”

Gazette Series: Stroud District Council has approved British Solar Renewables’ plans to cover 160 acres of farmland with solar panels near Berkeley (British Solar Renewables)Stroud District Council has approved British Solar Renewables’ plans to cover 160 acres of farmland with solar panels near Berkeley (British Solar Renewables)

Councillor Loraine Patrick (C, Dursley) said she has had an issue with organisations using the council’s ambition to do everything they can to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 as “a stick to beat us with just to get what they want”.

And Councillor Mark Ryder (C, Hardwicke) told the committee that he is seriously concerned about the loss of agricultural land and food security.

“I want green technology as well. I don’t want us to be producing electricity by burning gas either but for this district it is a problem that we are building commercial and residential development and not putting solar on those roofs.

“We are taking agricultural land here out of use and this is happening east and west of the M5.”

Councillor John Jones (C, Severn), who told the committee he has solar panels on his house, said he could not support the scheme.

He said solar farm applications on fields speak of the tonnes of CO2 emissions they will reduce but never say how many tonnes of corn will be lost.

Councillor Victoria Gray (C, Cam) said the scheme would impact the landscape and there are badgers and great crested newts on the site.

But Councillor Helen Fenton (Independent Left, Chalford) told the committee she would be supporting the officer’s recommendation to approve the scheme.

And Councillor Gary Luff (G, Painswick and Upton) said he was initially concerned about the visual impact and traffic but spoke of the benefits solar energy production would bring.

“Solar panels are a super efficient way, 20 odd per cent of converting sunshine into something useful.

"Whilst we might have a small detrimental effect to our food security we would get a positive effect on our energy security.”

The committee voted to approve the scheme by seven votes in favour and three against.