Planning Decision On St Martin’s Solar Project Deferred

Councillors have deferred making a decision on a controversial solar panel field at Lawrence’s Bay on St Martin’s.

Jonathan Smith wants to place up to 260 ground-mounted panels on a former agricultural field but Councillors have requested more information about the sustainability of the project.

There are concerns over the impact it could have on the landscape so they are holding a site visit.

Natrual England and English Heritage have not objected and the applicant claims support from the Duchy of Cornwall. Western Power are also being consulted over the project, which would be operated as a community business in which local people would buy shares.

However, not all locals are in favour.

Rod Bluff objected over the change of use from agricultural land to what he believes to be an industrial purpose and also questioned the financial sustainability of the project.

He thinks that there be significant energy losses in getting the power produced into consumer homes and claims that most St Martin’s Islanders use electricity for heating their homes and water, so solar thermal panels for each house would be a better option.

Chris Savill said she wants guidelines producing over what is and isn’t acceptable, as there are likely to be more solar or photovoltaic panel applications in the future.

Fred Ticheurst felt solar gardens and PV panels should be seriously considered to help save the planet and all applications should be considered on their merits “one by one.”

And he doesn’t think the reflection from these proposed panels, one of the key objections heard in many such schemes, would be a problem as the sun quickly moves during the day.

John Goddard felt there were too many unanswered questions and he wasn’t happy that the site was described as an unused field, especially as adjacent fields are in agricultural use.

He quoted the application, which claims the scheme is “a community cooperative which would benefit 12 homes on St Martin’s.” As far as he’s aware, there has been no consultation with St Martin’s residents about the proposal and he requested that the application be refused.

Chris Savill wanted to defer any decision, saying she felt that the community hadn’t been given information on the scheme and there were unanswered questions.

The application will be discussed at the next planning meeting to give the applicant time to answer the questions raised and for Councillors to see the field that will be used.