Solar scheme could form part of field plan in Crapstone

By Zoë Uglow   |   Reporter   |
Wednesday 11th May 2016 12:25 pm
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AN application to install 307 solar panels on part of a recreational field in Crapstone has been submitted to West Devon Borough Council by Buckland Mona-chorum Parish Council.

The parish council will talk about the plans at a public meeting in the village on Wednesday, May 18 but there is frustration from residents that they were not consulted before the application was submitted.

In an anonymous letter to the Times a Crapstone resident said: ‘The solar panels will be surrounded by a 2m high fence at the rear of the play park, just behind the football goal post taking up nearly a quarter of the field. No ball sports will be allowed around the fence.

‘It would be an eyesore in an area of outstanding natural beauty and it’s for 25 years. There is nowhere around the field that you will not see it, even from the public footpath in the field below.

‘Will it be safe for children to play around it for 25 years?

The resident continued:

‘We all paid for this field for 15 years, it was bought for sports and recreation and we are going to be denied the full use of the field.

‘We are being told it’s solar panels or development – that is wrong as we could all vote for the field to remain as a sports and recreational field.

‘If the field has to be changed then let’s choose something that the whole of the parish benefits from.’

The resident urged people to go along to the public meeting on May 18 to ask questions and tell the council to leave the field alone until there was sufficient consul-tation within the parish on what the parish residents wanted.

‘The parish council does not own the field we do,’ said the resident.

Despite claims that the recreational ground has been used for sports for many years, Buckland Monachorum Parish Council chairman and West Devon Borough Councillor Ric Cheadle said that the field has sat unused.

He said: ‘We have had the field for years and we have wondered what to do with it. This is why we are holding an open meeting – we have got a proposal which will be presented at the meeting.

‘We have submitted a planning application to have solar panels in part of the field which will power the other things that we have planned for the field.

‘At this stage the planning application is just to see if it is possible. If we don’t get permission we couldn’t include the solar power within our plans so that application really is to see if it would be permitted.’

Ric said that he wanted to reassure the public that the council don’t plan to use the whole field for solar panels, instead he said around 1/6 would be used.

He added: ‘If people have ideas about what they would like to see in the remaining space or instead of the solar panels, we would ask them to come along to the open meeting.

‘If the meeting is packed with people that passionately don’t want it and have better ideas we probably would put a stop to it but we need ideas because the field is sat pretty much doing nothing.’

Ric also said that the council had a complicated reason for submitting the planning application before the public meeting.

He added: ‘The council has had to apply for planning permission ahead of any decision about putting some solar panels in part of the field (as part of a bigger scheme for the field) because if we do decide to go down this route, we would fail to meet the Government’s deadline of end of September in order to qualify for the Feed In Tariff (FIT).

‘The panels, were they installed, would be part of a community energy project (Tamar Energy Community) aimed at reducing our carbon footprint and raising funds to support fuel poverty.

‘We have what we think is an interesting proposal which we will put to those who come along to the public meeting on May 18 at Buckland Village Hall at 7pm involving food production, facilities for children, support to a local charity, a community facility and self-build housing.

‘The public meeting will be an important part of getting the community’s views on the best use for the field.’

If given the go-ahead the development would be a 80kW solar photovoltaic installation, comprising of 307 solar photovoltaic panels with a rating of 260W each.

The panels are proposed to be arranged in seven rows of 22.24 meters long, with the top of the panels having a height of 2.46m above ground level. There would be a spacing of 9m between the rows and a deer fence enclosing the panels.

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