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.
Mr Matthews referring to Item 10 (Langford PV Solar Array) on the agenda stated that: The officer states the supposed benefits to the local population. But there are none. Most of the money will be spent in China and specialist contractors will be brought in to do the work. Do you agree that there will be very few, if any, local jobs, that there will be a loss of agricultural land and farming, a loss of our beautiful landscape, a loss of tourism, wildlife disruption, and an impact on deer?
Mr Matthews (speaking on behalf of this wife) and again referring to item 10 asked: Do you agree that poor quality, low nutritional grass and weeds will grow under and between the solar panels and that, as experience has shown, sheep grazing will not be continued and in fact grass mowing and use of herbicides will become necessary? Photos showing sheep in solar farms are just for propaganda purposes.
Dr Bratby again referring to item 10 asked 2 questions:
1. Can you provide an update on the investigation into how the two words "high grade" appeared in the minutes of the meeting of 14th July?
2. The Implications Report gives a warning about the implications for Mid Devon District Council of an appeal if the committee refuses this application. Are you aware that Devon CPRE has considerable experience at appeals, whether by public inquiry, hearing or by written representation and Devon CPRE would support MDDC in the event of an appeal?
Mrs Wheeler referring to the same application stated: In its submission of November 22nd 2019 Devon Wildlife Trust (DWT) recommended to guarantee bio diversity impact and soil improvement a fully qualified habitat restoration ecologist should be involved throughout. Mid Devon’s welcome conditioning of an ecological clerk of works does not of itself meet that criterion. Can we be assured that should the application be accepted DWTs specific stipulation will be adopted and if not why not?
Mr Roland Smith referring to the same application stated that: We are all very well aware of the current energy crisis, which stems from gas price hikes and an increasing reliance on gas-fired power stations to cover for the poor performance of unreliable renewables such as wind and solar. Do you not consider it madness to build more solar farms and make the energy crisis in the future even worse?
The report states “The social and economic benefit of providing for the average electrical needs of 10,077 homes in the Mid Devon area. Do you not agree that his is not true as the solar farm will be supplying to the distribution network, not specifically to Mid Devon? It will contribute to the national demand for electrical energy to the paltry extent of 0.016% of average demand and absolutely zero after sunset when demand is at its highest?
A question asked before but which remains unanswered: can you tell us why the Officer maintains that the development will cut greenhouse gas emissions when a life cycle analysis has not been performed when the mining, manufacture and transport of panels from forced-labour factories in China will produce huge emissions of carbon dioxide.
Mrs Janice Jones referring to the same application stated:
Langford Court is a Grade 2*, not Grade 2, listed building as stated in the Implications Report. Are you aware that a Grade 2* listed building is afforded great protection against visual impacts from a development?
The government has recently stated that it is concerned at the increasing loss of farmland and that with a rapidly expanding population we should be producing more food instead of importing food from countries which produce it using unsustainable methods? Do you agree that we should be using Mid Devon's farmland to produce top quality meat and dairy products rather than low grade energy such as solar power?
Mrs Jones asked a question on behalf of Mandy Willis: Did the committee ever carry out a site visit and are the members fully aware of the huge scale of the proposal and its visual impact on the landscape and surrounding properties?
Mr Michael Jones asked the following questions:
Do you realise that considerable maintenance of solar farms is necessary? This includes mowing the grass under and between the panels at least twice a year, applying weedkiller at least once a year to kill pernicious weeds and prevent scrub from growing, and cleaning the panels at least twice a year. Do you know that heavy machinery is required to carry out all this maintenance and that after 40 years of such activity the soil will be compacted and severely degraded?
I am sure the Committee members are aware of nearby solar farms at Westcott, Willand and Burlescombe which total 81 acres. There is another proposal for a 158 acre solar farm 1.2km away at Clyst Hydon. Are the Committee happy with another massive installation of 152 acres in Mid Devon with the potential of these areas being reclassified as a brownfield site in 40 years or less.
Mrs Winterson again referring to Item 10 on the agenda stated: Have the developers provided a detailed and realistic forecast of what the solar farm would likely generate under different conditions and if so what model is this based? If the solar farm should be approved would its ongoing energy contribution and efficiency be pubic knowledge?
The Chairman indicated that responses to questions would be provided when the item was debated.