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   Solar farm Update from Parish Council    19 May, 2020

Solar farm Update from Parish Council

To the villagers at Marsh and Toot Baldon
South Oxfordshire Solar farm
Enso energy have circulated a consultation booklet concerning the proposed solar farm of fields south of the Cowley sub-station.  This is part of their community engagement prior to  the submission of  a full planning application.  In addition, the council has emailed its own briefing paper based on earlier documents from Enso.
The council would encourage villagers to walk, using present guidelines, along the boundary footpath to see for themselves the visual impact of the solar farm.  Villagers may also wish to join the public exhibition webinar on Friday 22 May from 10am to 12 noon (https://www.ensoenergy.co.uk/proposed-projects/southoxfordshire/)
The booklet requests the feedback form to be completed and returned by 29 May, which gives the community very little time to formulate its views.  The Parish Council met on Monday to discuss the proposed project.  Before it finalises its response to the plans, it intends to request further information from Enso by submitting a number of questions.

  1. The council has some doubts concerning the ‘green credentials’ of the project and requests a full breakdown of the carbon impact of the project from start to finish.  This should include:
  2. Carbon costs of producing the panels
  3. Total carbon costs of installation and decommission after 35 years or before (please see note 3 below)
  4. Loss of carbon fixation by leaving the field fallow or grazing sheep


  1. The council is concerned by the loss of agriculture and the possible impact on carbon emissions.  It fears that the loss of agricultural production eg wheat could be countered by an increase in importation with the resulting  increasing in carbon emissions.  The council would like to know how this loss of agricultural output will be replaced.


  1. There is a claim that the panels will last for 35 years. Present PV panels lose their output at a rate of about 1% per year.  This means that after 25% there will be a serious reduction in efficiency.  If this is so, will the developer opt to renew the panels after 25 years and apply for an extension to their licence?


  1. The council would like to see the evidence that fields lying fallow for 35 years, with no agricultural input will truly improve in fertility.  Sheep will not graze under the panels and the lack of light to the grass below will lead to a reduction in soil fertility.


  1. The project will have a profound impact on the environment around and the Baldons and Nuneham Courtenay.  Footpaths will be enclosed by hedges and high fences will enclose the solar farm.  The impact of the loss of open green spaces and wide-reaching views on mental well-being is well established.  It feels to the council that all the commercial benefits for this project lie with the landowners and Enso energy and so questions remain concerning any trade-offs in terms of increased amenities for the local community.


  1. The project acknowledges the loss of Green Belt and surrounding fields but fails to acknowledge the impact on the community of Greater and Blackbird Leys.  The importance of these wide-open spaces to that community should not be ignored.


  1. The council would welcome some greater clarity over any long-term plan for the land over and above installing and maintaining the solar plans.  There are a large number of houses planned for Grenoble Road and other sites around South Oxfordshire.  The council would suggest that, working with developers, a significant amount of energy could be generated without the impact on the environment.  Along these lines, the council would also ask how this scheme fits in with the proposed housing and commercial development at Grenoble Road.

If any villagers have any questions they would like to add to this list, please contact the Clerk, who will include them.
This letter, of course, will be in addition to any person responses people may have to the consultation booklet.
Tom James
Clerk to the Baldons Parish Council

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