Month: June 2015

Bid for solar farm outside Ludlow delayed yet again after Historic England renews its objection

Earlier this week, the second set of revised plans for proposed the Henley Hall solar farm were submitted by Kronos Solar. The changed layout was intended to assuage concerns expressed by Historic England and Shropshire Council’s heritage team about the impact of the scheme on the setting of Henley Hall and its gardens. Historic England is still not satisfied that the changes have addressed its objections. In a letter to Shropshire Council’s planners yesterday, it said: Whilst the proposed revision to the scheme will remove the area of the development directly from the registered park and the garden boundary is an improvement, having considered the response to our previous advice from the applicant’s heritage consultation, we wish to maintain our view with regard to the proposals.

Bromfield solar farm approved after zero objections – is that unique?

I can’t recall a case across England where this has occurred before. The Bromfield solar farm has been approved without a single protest or objection. We have recently seen lively and well organised protests against solar farms at Whitton, Henley Hall, Neen Sollars, Acton Scott and Sheriffhales. Although the latter two had a good measure of local support, they also faced strong opposition. It was different with the Bromfield solar farm. Save South Shropshire Countryside, which was established to oppose solar farms in the countryside, said it had no objection. The Campaign to Protect Rural England and others supported the scheme. There was not a single objection. When this 5MW, 9.2 hectare scheme was first proposed in May 2014, I asked a number of questions. The promoter of the scheme listened carefully, made modifications and produced a sensible planning application that I could fully back.

Teckal iceberg could sink Shropshire Council’s private company ip&e

There are two arguments that Keith Barrow, leader of Shropshire Council puts forward to justify transferring ever more public services to ip&e, the council’s private company. The first is that it will cut costs to the council. The second is that it will make a profit for the council. Neither stacks up in my view. Cuts to costs could happen and have happened within the existing council structure. At present, staff in ip&e have the same terms and conditions as those in Shropshire Council. That could change, particularly on pensions. But if ip&e wants to attract highly qualified people in a tightening labour market, it may well have to pay above public sector rates. It will need healthy bank balances to fund that. Dreams of making a profit are such a high risk that council finance officers won’t take account of them in the council’s future budget projections. I can’t see how this company can make enough money under Teckal rules to justify the risks involved.

Job Watch Ludlow – sharp fall in unemployed young people in Ludlow area

There has been a welcome drop in unemployment in the Ludlow area. The number of people in the Ludlow parliamentary constituency claiming Jobseekers Allowance, or not in work and claiming Universal Credit, has dropped from 432 in April to 408 in May (6% fall). Nearly all of the fall has been in youth unemployment which has dropped sharply from 105 people to 85 (19% fall).

Ludlow solar farm plans changed as dispute breaks out over scheme impact on heritage – updated

Update: 25 June 2015 Kronos have submitted a second revised plan. The initial plan was revised after Historic England and Shropshire Council’s heritage team raised concerns about how well the impact of the arrays on Henley Hall had been assessed (see below). That revision moved part of the array from beyond Colonel’s Plantation near Henley Hall up the slope to join the main array area. Now these plans have been dropped and the array area has been reduced in size. As yet the supporting documents have not been updated, so we don’t know how much energy this smaller solar farm will generate. Ludlow Town Council have written a strongly worded objection against the proposal.

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