Devon CPRE

RCN 1175228, Beaworthy

We desperately need your help to save Devon’s countryside from the huge solar array applications that are gobbling up the best livestock-rearing land in the world, one whole farm at a time.

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Total raised so far

£7,276

Gift Aid + est. £1492.75


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89

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0

As an example, we are now trying to overturn permission for a 164-acre solar development in the north Devon district of Torridge. If we succeed, it could influence how councils across the country determine applications for other big solar farm developments in the countryside. By helping us, you will be helping to oppose future huge solar farms degrading valuable farmland where you live. This legal case alone is likely to cost around £50,000, but early indications – the council has already conceded, and only the developer is now fighting on – suggest we could win.

Will you help us campaign against massive solar farms being planted across some of the world’s best agricultural land – land that could and should be making a far bigger contribution to carbon reduction than inefficient solar technology?

Devon CPRE is a small independent charity that urgently needs your help. Across the country, developers are jumping on a bandwagon that makes it easy to persuade local planning committees to grant permission for ‘medium-sized’ solar farms of around 160 acres – each one the size of an average West Country farm.

For instance, we are currently working to overturn permission for a 164-acre solar development in the north Devon district of Torridge; a case that could cost around £50,000, but which we have a good chance of winning. The controversial application was recently given the go-ahead by Torridge District Council despite a strong campaign by Devon CPRE and residents of the rural parish of Pyworthy, including actor John Nettles OBE. But this case is only the tip of an ever-expanding iceberg.

Please read on to find out how your support can help us protect our precious farmland,  landscapes and natural environment. 

Developers tell us that covering thousands of acres in glass, metal and concrete is a good, ‘green’ use of our farmland. But these developments are a highly inefficient use of farmland and an ineffective way to produce sustainable power in our cloudy climate. And there is strong evidence that the majority of the solar panels on the market are made using Uyghur forced labour in Chinese factory complexes. 

Across Devon, more than 4300 acres of agricultural land – the equivalent of 25 farms – have already been lost to solar development. Yet still, the applications come thick and fast, not just in Devon but across the whole country. Untold acres of productive land in the UK have been lost at a time when they are badly needed for food security. We should be producing homegrown food instead of relying on importing it from across the world, with all the carbon emissions that entails. We should be supporting our farmers to produce food in a more sustainable way, rather than taking land out of production. Well-farmed land with a mix of arable and livestock is the best form of carbon-capture we’ve yet discovered.

Devon’s most recently approved solar farm is a key case. On 4 November 2021, Torridge councillors voted 5:4 to follow their Planning Officer’s recommendation to allow a 164-acre (66-hectare) solar farm in Pyworthy, NW Devon. Permission was granted despite extensive local opposition: more than 200 letters of objection were received from a parish of less than 400 households, and only a tiny handful in favour.

There are already five operational solar farms in the area. The deck is stacked against communities like Pyworthy, because solar farms like to share their grid access points: where there is one, more follow. If this one goes ahead, 28 more fields will be lost and there will be an acre of solar panels for every household in the parish.

The decision notice was published on 10th November 2021. Click here to view, and click 10 Nov 2021, Decision.

This is an important case, but there are sure to be more to come. Torridge alone currently has two more large-scale solar farm applications in the planning system. Other districts have many more. That’s why we believe it’s important to challenge this decision NOW. But these campaigns cost a lot of money.

An important democratic principle is at stake in this David-versus-Goliath-type-scenario – small rural communities and a local countryside charity, versus councils that should be required to act in the interests of their residents and according to their own policies, and international corporations with deep pockets and big ambitions. 

Can you support us in this vital campaign? 

We know there are many other demands on your purse at this time of year. But we have to act and act fast, before it’s too late. Anything you can give will really help us. Please, donate. If you are a UK taxpayer, by pledging Gift Aid to us as a registered charity every pound you give is worth an extra 25p.

We’d love to have you with us for the long haul

Thank you for helping us with this campaign. If you want to support Devon CPRE in our fight to protect the environment and our countryside, why not become a member? It costs just £36 a year for individuals - the price of a takeaway coffee each month - and membership has many benefits. Find out more at https://www.cpredevon.org.uk/membership/

Thank you!


Latest

MA
Michael Alan Godfrey commented

This Court action is being viewed as being critical landmark judgement, setting a precedent for the size and positioning of these very large solar sites, which only produce electicity in the middle of the day and very little for the morning and evening peaks when we definately need the power. They also produce very little throughout the winter period when we are struggling for power.

15th January 2022 at 1:09pm
GM
G M Rigler commented

The South of England (with so many roofs without solar panels) is not like Morocco with strong and plentiful sunlight and a lot of impoverished soil. Our soils can help with carbon capture as long as they are not being degraded by vast areas of paneling. Hoping your action will promote sanity, as farmers, apparently neglected by government, struggle for their future and solar panel installers rush for easy options, against the "public interest" in health and wellbeing.

15th January 2022 at 1:04pm
GM
G M Rigler pledged £50
15th January 2022 at 12:50pm
DP
David Peacock commented

If a challenge is successful it deserves the widest publicity possible. The very best of luck.

15th January 2022 at 11:54am
DP
David Peacock pledged £100 + an est. £25.00 in Gift Aid
15th January 2022 at 11:51am
A
Anonymous pledged £20

14th January 2022 at 1:13pm

HW
Helen Wills commented

Once agricultural land is taken out of food production, it seems that it is lost to all of us, as it does not return to agriculture. The more that can be done to save our green land, the better! Please keep up the good work that you are already doing, CPRE, and thank you for fighting for Devon countryside

14th January 2022 at 10:32am
HW
Helen Wills pledged £20 + an est. £5.00 in Gift Aid
14th January 2022 at 10:27am
Helen Wills has also backed 2 other projects
SC
Sarah Child pledged £50 + an est. £12.50 in Gift Aid
14th January 2022 at 10:24am
Sarah Child has also backed 1 other project
PE
Peter Edgcombe Stevens pledged £20 + an est. £5.00 in Gift Aid
13th January 2022 at 8:37pm
Peter Edgcombe Stevens has also backed 6 other projects
JC
Julian Cox commented

Solar farms are not necessary, they are an eyes sore and ate mistaken by wildfowl as lakes. Install panels on house roofs and those of public and commercial buildings.

13th January 2022 at 6:48pm

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