Anger as solar panels farm gets green light

construction engineer checking solar panels at a solar farm. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire
construction engineer checking solar panels at a solar farm. Photo: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Disappointed residents, who had campaigned vigorously against plans to put solar panels on three agricultural fields equivalent to the size of three Wembley pitches, faced defeat last week when the plans were given the green light.

The scheme for the solar panels on three agricultural fields off Coal Pit Lane in Gisburn went through with a vote of eight to four at Ribble Valley Borough Council’s planning and development committee last Thursday.

The approval of these plans is just the thin end of the wedge and a precedent has now been set

Parish councillor David Waters

Mrs Becky Wilson, who lives in Coal Pit Lane, said: “We are all disappointed that we fought for a beautiful area of countryside that we live in and love but sadly we have lost.

“I just fear that this will open the floodgates for similar applications to this in the area.’’

Protestors had argued that the plans would mean a “huge chunk’’ of countryside would be lost to the area. They argued that there are plenty of buildings on industrial, commercial and retail parks that could accommodate the solar panels.

They also argued that all new houses could incorporate them on their roofs, agricultural buildings, schools and other public buildings. The application involves the installation of solar PV arrays on three agricultural fields, which are currently used for grazing, off Coal Pit Lane. The site is 500 metres south of the outskirts of Gisburn and is bisected by Coal Pit Lane. It is not classed as a green belt area.

The proposal was discussed by Gisburn Parish Council with members unanimously agreeing to oppose the plans on the grounds of its size, location and that it would be detrimental to the area. The applicant is London-based Solar Park Developments 5 Ltd, which is owned by Island G. The site is owned by local farmer, R. Falshaw and Sons, of Shuttleworth Hall, Gisburn.

Parish councillor David Waters said: “I am disappointed to see that the Council has decided to approve plans for a massive solar farm in the open countryside in Gisburn. “This is despite the opposition from Gisburn Parish Council, Rimington Parish Council, Nigel Evans MP, and local residents.

“The approval of these plans is just the thin end of the wedge and a precedent has now been set.’’