Solar farm plans that would help power Mitcheldean’s Vantage Point business park could be thrown out.
Forest of Dean entrepreneur Brian Bennett, pictured, who owns Vantage Point, wants to put more than 14,000 photovoltaic panels in a field neighbouring the site.
But fears of the impact on the surroundings have led officers at Forest of Dean District Council to recommend the scheme be refused at Tuesday’s planning committee meeting.
Mr Bennett said solar power would provide Vantage Point with a secure and cheap power supply to more than 80 businesses on the 70-acre site, as well as benefiting community projects in the longer term. But nearly 130 letters have been sent to the council objecting to the proposals and ramblers said a footpath through the field would become enclosed by security fencing.
There are further concerns about the impact on nearby ‘heritage assets’.
A representation from Mitcheldean Parish Council added: “The scheme appears to offer little or no benefit to the village with no compensation offered for the loss that will be endured on a daily basis by local inhabitants.”
Mr Bennett told the Citizen this week: “Having reviewed the technology available, I believe solar power is the only one that produces environmentally 100 per cent clean energy.
“There are no emissions, noise or carbon footprints. It is very benign technology and the amazing thing about solar is that the variation in energy production is only three per cent.”
A report by planning officers at the council said: “It is considered that the proposed solar farm is unacceptable as it proposes a large number of solar panels on a prominent site that would significantly harm the character, appearance, landscape qualities of the area, the setting of a Grade II listed building and the setting of the Mitcheldean Conservation Area.
“Additionally, insufficient information has been submitted to establish and understand the character, extent and significance of any archaeological remains on this site.
“There is considered to be no overriding benefit that would outweigh the significant harm to the character, appearance and heritage assets of the area.”
Renewable energy is a hot topic in the Forest of Dean.
Government inspectors recently rejected plans for an 86m high wind turbine on the outskirts of Coleford and similar plans are in the pipeline at Alvington.
However, a community turbine in St Briavels has been hailed a success and a 30,000-panel solar farm in Coleford won planning permission in April last year.