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Wickham Hall solar farm: Developer ponders appeal after Uttlesford District Council refuses planning permission

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The company behind plans for a solar farm on the outskirts of Bishop’s Stortford is considering an appeal after Uttlesford District Council rejected its application.

Endurance Energy’s 40-year project at Wickham Hall would deliver 36,000 photovoltaic panels across 114 hectares (282 acres), primarily in the Albury parish of East Herts.

However, 35.77ha (88 acres) in Farnham parish fall within the jurisdiction of Uttlesford and last month its planning committee rejected a plea from Bishop’s Stortford Climate Group to back the proposals. Instead, the politicians decided to prioritise protecting the Green Belt.

Wickham Hall solar farm plans (56360003)
Wickham Hall solar farm plans (56360003)

Greg Hilton, head of renewable energy and sustainability for Endurance, told the Indie: “Clearly, we are very disappointed by the decision taken by Uttlesford District Council to refuse our application. We remain confident of the clear benefits of the proposals and are considering all options, including the potential for an appeal against Uttlesford’s decision.”

East Herts Council has extended the deadline for statutory consultees – bodies like Natural England and the highways authority – to respond to the plans for the majority of the site within its jurisdiction until the end of May.

UDC could have waited to co-ordinate the decisions but decided to press ahead. The authority is currently subject to special Government measures limiting its ability to determine major applications because of its poor planning record.

Solar farm
Solar farm

A spokeswoman for East Herts Council said: “We are waiting on responses from statutory consultees and have agreed to extend the deadline until the end of May. We hope to determine the application as soon as possible after that, but timescales will be dependent on the nature of the comments raised.”

Supporters of the scheme argue that ending the import of Russian gas, reducing the impact of fossil fuel price shocks and cutting carbon emissions to avert a climate catastrophe top the balance in favour of the solar farm.

Endurance says its development, covering an area equivalent to 215 football pitches, would be capable of producing 49.9 megawatts (MW) – almost 50 million watts – of electricity, enough to power 15,000 homes. It is one kilometre (0.62 miles) from the Bishop’s Stortford sub-station.

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