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SO LONG: Appeal for solar farm near Radlett and Bushey dismissed by Secretary of State

 Published on: 12th April 2024   |   By: Sophia Sheera   |   Category: Uncategorized

Hertsmere Borough Council’s (HBC) decision to reject an application for a 320-acre solar farm on land between Radlett, Bushey and Borehamwood has been upheld by the government’s Planning Inspector and the Secretary of State.

Inspector Helen Heward found that the development would greatly harm the green belt and several heritage sites, whilst substantially changing the character of the local area.

Additionally, the Secretary of State noted that the developer predicated its appeal on the need to install their solar farm within 5km of Elstree substation, which HBC found to be unnecessary. The council also noted that the government is currently pushing for wind over solar energy.

The Secretary of State therefore concluded: “There is nothing ‘very special’ about the circumstances of the proposed solar farm.”

Only under ‘very special’ circumstances can developments destroying green belt land be allowed.

The report, published on April 8, also made reference to the many community groups who together composed the Combined Objectors Group (COG). Spearheaded by Alison Rubinson and Janet Engels of Letchmore Heath Village Trust, the COG raised more than £100,000 to hire a barrister, planning consultant and team of experts to fight their case. Their campaigning efforts were helped substantially by a large donation from the Radlett Society & Green Belt Association.

Reflecting upon their win, Janet said: “We are delighted with the result and that the COG brought real strength to the case. It’s a powerful example of what a community can achieve when it comes together.”

Councillor Nik Oakley, HBC’s portfolio holder for planning, infrastructure and transport, added: “I’m absolutely delighted that the appeal has been dismissed. The location and size of the proposed solar farm was unacceptable – it would have destroyed green belt space and merged together whole communities.

“Officers will study the appeal decision carefully and see what lessons are to be learnt.”

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