Allegations of bribery and fierce defences of the countryside were made as a proposal to install a 28MW solar farm was rejected by SKDC.
The plan to build on 52.3 hectares at Copley Farm situated in the middle of Claypole, Dry Doddington and Stubton was opposed by several public speakers, including Elaine Kirby who claimed: “All the parish councils are interested in is money they receive for not objecting.”
The applicant, James Jamieson of TGC Renewables, refuted this and said: “With every stage of the planning design process the Bribery Act 2010 has been complied with by TGC.”
He explained TGC offers a community benefit scheme of £1,000 per installed MW for 10 years, in this case totalling £280,000, which would be shared proportionally between Claypole and Westborough and Dry Doddington parish councils, irrespective of whether they supported the proposals or not.
Other questions raised included the solar farm’s impact on the setting of Grade 1 listed St Peter’s Church at Claypole, and over the chosen land’s grade of 3b, which defines it as moderate quality agricultural land.
Coun Reginald Howard’s statement: “This would be tantamount to rape of the countryside”, was supported by Coun Rosemary Kaberry-Brown, who after seeing designs of the fencing that would surround the solar farm, said: “It looks like a prisoner of war camp.”
The application was refused by 12 against one on the reasons that development of agricultural land had not been demonstrated to be necessary, and on the recommendation of refusal by SKDC’s conservation officer.