Contact: Carole Oliphant Member Services Officer
APOLOGIES AND SUBSTITUTE MEMBERS (04.08)
To receive any apologies for absence and notices of appointment of substitute.
There were no apologies or substitute Members.
Committee to note the Remote Meetings Protocol
The Committee had before it, and NOTED, the *Remote Meetings Protocol.
Note: *Protocol previously circulated and attached to the minutes
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS UNDER THE CODE OF CONDUCT (04.32)
Councillors are reminded of the requirement to declare any interest, including the type of interest, and reason for that interest at each item.
Cllr R F Radford declared a personal interest as the some of the applicants were related to him. In the circumstances he stated that it would be difficult to justify that his decision was not influenced by this, and as such was choosing to not participate in the debate or vote on the decision and would leave the meeting, which he then did.
Members to consider whether to approve the minutes as a correct record of the meetings held on 10th February 2021 and 10th March 2021
The minutes of the meeting held on 10th February were agreed as a true record.
The minutes of the meeting held on 10th March remained in draft and were not approved until specific questions submitted by Members were addressed.
PUBLIC QUESTION TIME (08.20)
To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
Note: A maximum of 30 minutes is allowed for this item.
All the questions for the meeting referred to Item 7 (the construction of Ground Mounted Solar PV Panels at land at NGR 303437 103555 East of Langford Mill and Tye Farm, Langford).
Mrs Jan Jones asked if the committee if they had carried out a site visit and secondly why has the description of the proposed development missed the most important aspect of the proposal, namely the sheer size of the development plus 4 miles of security fences and CCTVs going against the Council’s supplementary planning document which states that this area has a high sensitivity to solar development to over 37 acres. The panels will come from China, hardly carbon neutral and there will be a considerable amount of infrastructure contained in unsightly containers and a battery substation occupying over 1 acre of land. Is there an agenda to keep this industrial nature of this proposed solar installation from the members of the committee? Do the committee realise that part of the site is in flood zones 2 and 3 which has a medium to high probability of flooding. Do they believe that all of this infrastructure and new drainage ditches and swales will not affect downstream flooding. Photos have been submitted to show the effect of the flooding on the Plymtree Road and the weak bridge over the River Weaver, why are these not mentioned in the officer’s report? Finally, can I ask, if this application is approved, can you honestly tell me if this huge solar installation is worth the destruction of 152 acres (60 ha) of our beautiful Devonshire countryside, for the sake of a minute 0.01% of electricity in the UK.
Mr Mike Jones asked are the members of the committee aware that there will be considerable cumulative impact with adjacent solar farms and that the landscape of this part of Devon will become an industrialised grey solar farm landscape. Are you also aware that there are proposals for another solar farm a Clyst Hydon which at its nearest point would only be 1.2 km from this one, no doubt they will end up connected at some time in the future? Page 21 of the officer report states that there were 136 letters of representation and that only 36 were objections, this is wrong. There were 126 objections letters, one of which was subsequently withdrawn, in fact there were 125 objection letters, there was also a petition submitted with around 70 signatures which conveniently wasn’t mentioned. The objection that was withdrawn was done so following a payoff to the person involved which I reported to the Planning officer. Given that the 125 objection letters contained a lot of detailed evidence, why in a 36 page report has their content be diminished to half a page of bullet points which has ignored much of the valid evidence, why has all this evidence been conveniently ignored by the officer.
Mrs Mandy Willis stated that she and her husband lived at 5 Langford Green Cottages and asked whether ... view the full minutes text for item 145.
CHAIRMAN'S ANNOUNCEMENTS (35.24)
To receive any announcements the Chairman may wish to make.
The Chairman reminded Members that the next meeting of the Planning Committee would be held on 14th April 2021.
APPLICATION 19/01679/MFUL - CONSTRUCTION OF GROUND MOUNTED SOLAR PV PANELS TO GENERATE UP TO 49.9MW (SITE AREA 60.78 ha) AND BATTERY STORAGE FACILITY TOGETHER WITH ALL ASSOCIATED WORKS, EQUIPMENT AND NECESSARY INFRASTRUCTURE - LAND AT NGR 303437 103555 - EAST OF LANGFORD MILL AND TYE FARM, LANGFORD. PDF 610 KB
To consider a report of the Head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration with regard to the above application.
The Committee had before it a report of the head of Planning, Economy and Regeneration regarding the above.
The Development Management Manager outlined the contents of the report by way of a presentation which highlighted the site boundary, site layout, photographs of the approximate site extent, current viewpoints and photomontage views.
The officer stated that the site would consist of 91k solar panels and described the orientation of the panels. She informed Members that there were 3 access points and that during construction of the site there would be 6 daily deliveries to the site which would unload at Tye Farm and the materials taken over the weight restricted bridge by smaller vehicles.
She explained that an area in the middle of the site would not have any solar panels after discussions with the Environment Agency regarding the risk of flooding. The application stated that sheep would continue to graze on the site and that screening of up to 3 metres in height would be provided at the south west of the site to shield neighbouring properties.
The officer then provided the following responses to questions from members of the public:
· No site visit had taken place due to the pandemic restrictions
· The flood zoning had been mentioned in the report
· The Environmental Agency were statutory consultees
· Advice had been sought with regard to the flood risk from the Environment Agency and the LFA
· The farmland would not be destroyed and the land would still be used for farming in some form
· Council policy was to summarise objections in reports but the full submissions were available to view on the website
· Property values were not a material consideration
· Glare from the panels would be dealt with by landscaping
· There had been no discussion about other properties or sites
· It was not within the remit of the Planning Authority to remove parts of the site from the application
· Developments in technology had seen solar farm lifespans increase to 40 years
· The application included battery storage so that power could be released into the network at peak times
· The total storage capacity of the battery units were not known to planning officers
· The developer and operator were responsible for the biodiversity plan
· The developer was responsible for the removal of the equipment after 40 years
· Conditions had been included to enforce the removal of the equipment after 40 years
· There was no precedent, each application had to be determined on its own merits
· Solar panels were predominately glass and silica and if they failed would be replaced by the operator
· The Grazing of sheep under the panels was feasible and a biodiversity plan had been submitted by the applicant with regard to the control of weeds on the site
· The National Infrastructure Group had not been involved in the application
· The biodiversity plan stated there would be an ecologist on site during construction
· Minimal use of pesticides could be conditioned
· Loss of agricultural land was mentioned in the report however the site ... view the full minutes text for item 147.