West Oxfordshire District Council to await detailed proposal before taking a view on Botley West Solar Farm
West Oxfordshire District Council has agreed to await for detailed plans to be published by the developers of the proposed Botley West Solar Farm before forming its view as part of the next round of community consultation.
Cllr Andy Graham, Leader of the Council, said, “This is a national level proposal being brought forward by a private developer and ultimately the Planning Inspectorate and Secretary of State will be making a decision on whether it is approved, not the district council.
“Unfortunately and disappointingly, this proposal will bypass the local planning process and therefore we have little influence on the decision when it is made. We have previously expressed our frustration with this approach as we feel it limits the input from local residents.
“Our role in this application is to provide feedback on how the proposal will impact the local area and communities. We know there are already strong feelings about the solar farm but we have not yet had the detailed plans from the developer. We want to see those plans, and also let residents see them as well to form their views, before we send back our representation.
“We expect these plans to be published this spring/ summer as part of another round of consultation which all residents will be able to contribute to as well. We expect this next round of consultation to include detailed and robust impact assessments which will explain how the development affects the environment and local communities. We will help let people know when that consultation is live and we would encourage all interested local residents to provide their views which the Planning Inspector will see before making a recommendation.
“As the district council we must remain neutral until those full plans are published so that we are not seen to be biassed before having all the facts. We believe that by taking this approach we can make a properly informed submission that will carry more weight with the Planning Inspector.
“As with all planning proposals there will be harms and benefits but we can not make a view without first seeing all the information and therefore make an informed decision.”
The Botley West Solar Farm proposal has been brought forward by Photo Volt Development Partners. Due to the size of the scheme it is classed as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project which means that the decision to grant permission for the development is made by the Planning Inspectorate before it is approved by the relevant Secretary of State
An initial community consultation was run for seven weeks in November and December 2022 where basic proposals were presented. There is due to be another community consultation on the full proposals in spring/ summer 2023 before the Planning Inspector is due to make a decision in 2024/25.
More information on the proposal can be found on the developers website www.botleywest.co.uk. Information on the process for granting consent and the councils position can be found on our website www.westoxon.gov.uk/botleywestsolarfarm
Notes for editors: Botley West Solar Farm was discussed at the Full Council meeting on 22/3/23. The minutes, including the full response from the Council Leader, will be available on the council website in the days following the meeting.