New data shows Shropshire has a middling record on renewable energy but is top for biodigestion

A year or so before I moved to Shropshire, I drove from Oxfordshire to visit the biodigester on Coder Road. The plant was a work of wonder, new technology that turned food and farm waste into compost, generating gas and electricity in the process. The biodigester has since been shut down but anaerobic digestion has remained a significant green industry around Ludlow. The last I heard, the biodigester industry employed nearly 150 people in the Ludlow area.

It is not surprise therefore to learn that by March last year, Shropshire topped the league table of local authority areas with capacity to generate electricity from anaerobic digestion. It was also ranked third for producing heat from biomass. For all forms of renewable energy, Shropshire was ranked ninth out of the 348 local authorities in England and Wales.[1] That’s not a bad track record.

Continue reading “New data shows Shropshire has a middling record on renewable energy but is top for biodigestion”

We should not be losing solar farm appeals in South Shropshire

I am disappointed and rather angry that a planning inspector has allowed a solar farm to go ahead above Neen Sollars, near Cleobury Mortimer. I don’t think that this appeal needed to have been lost.

The Neen Sollars decision follows the approval by another planning inspector of a solar farm at Acton Scott. A decision on an application for a solar farm at Whitton is due any day. I fear for the result.

All three solar farm applications were turned down by the South Planning Committee against the advice of officers. In all three cases, councillors have subsequently been excluded from the appeal process. The council’s case was submitted after the planning inspectorate deadline for two of the three appeals. To me this suggests that the technical documentation was prepared under hurried pressure. And for all three applications, the appeal case has been written by the same planning team that enthusiastically supported the planning application at the South Planning Committee.

Continue reading “We should not be losing solar farm appeals in South Shropshire”

Ministers are thinking of nationalising planning decisions on fracking – I’m asking Shropshire Council to lobby for local decisions

Thanks to the dozens of people who have emailed me a standard letter expressing concerns about fracking. This polluting technology has no place on our small crowded island. It has no role in a world where countries are already being decimated by climate change. I’ve put forward a motion to Shropshire Council, seconded by Kevin Turley, to ask it to lobby for local control of fracking planning applications.

The standard email was triggered by an article in the Telegraph. This revealed that energy secretary Amber Rudd, communities secretary Greg Clark and environment chief Liz Truss wrote to George Osborne last summer. They requested that fracking should to be brought into the Planning Act 2008 regime for national infrastructure projects. That would means that applications would not be determined locally but by the planning inspectorate in Bristol. We would lose all local control.

Continue reading “Ministers are thinking of nationalising planning decisions on fracking – I’m asking Shropshire Council to lobby for local decisions”

New plans for two solar installations near Ludlow – updated

Update: 19 June 2015

Fishmore Farm. The rooftop scheme was approved under delegated powers on 7 May 2015.

Whitton. On Tuesday, the South Planning Committee unanimously rejected plans for a 4.3MW, 13,000-panel solar farm at Whitton in Cayman parish a few miles from Ludlow. Officers had recommended approval but committee members were not convinced by the arguments in the officer report. After a lengthy and lively debate, I proposed refusal, seconded by Robert Tindall, councillor for Brown Clee. Officers resisted us citing loss of best and most versatile agricultural land as a reason for refusal. Through the debate, the case officer had argued that the grading of the land is unaffected by solar installations, citing appeal cases. In my view these cases were selective and Councillor Tindall and I stuck to our guns on including loss of best and most versatile land as a ground for refusal. The committee backed us and voted unanimously to reject the scheme on the following grounds:

The development site is in close proximity to the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and would have a detrimental and visual impact upon the environment, character and landscape of the area and would result in the loss of best and most versatile land. Accordingly, the proposal would be contrary to Core Strategy Policies CS5, CS6 and CS17 and paragraph 112 of the National Planning Policy Framework whereby the adverse impacts would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits.

Main article: 29 March 2015

Two planning applications have been submitted for very different solar installations near Ludlow. One, on the roofs of existing chicken sheds, is unlikely to be controversial. The other is a submission for a solar farm at Whitton in Caynham parish. A larger scheme on this site caused much controversy and was thrown out by the South Planning Committee last October.

Continue reading “New plans for two solar installations near Ludlow – updated”