A bank of solar panels against the sky

An industrialised solar farm landscape looms near Holsworthy in northwest Devon

sharon goble
Authored by sharon goble
Posted: Tuesday, March 16, 2021 - 16:01

Proposals for the latest and largest solar farm in Devon, adjacent to an existing one, would transform the pastoral scenery between Holsworthy and Bude into an ugly landscape of solar panels and security fencing stretching across 28 fields.

The Devon branch of the countryside charity CPRE says the rural vistas people have come to cherish more than ever during the pandemic will be ruined for at least 40 years if an application for a 42MW installation near Pyworthy in Torridge gets the go-ahead. 

Described by developer RES, as a “sensitively-designed project”, the solar farm would cover 66 hectares of grassland bordering two county wildlife sites and involve 783 HGV deliveries during construction. It would include:

  • 2,920 racks of 26 panels - nearly 76,000 panels in total - on 29,200 pile-driven poles
  • 8.7km (5.4 miles) of security fence (called deer fencing)
  • 85 CCTV cameras on poles
  • 3.1km (2 miles) of tracks
  • 5km (3 miles) of 1-metre-deep cable trenches
  • 15 substations in industrial containers each with a hard-standing area

In Devon, there are already more than 7 square miles of solar farms built on agricultural land and there are several other proposed massive solar farms in the planning system. The Derril Water proposal is within a mile of the Upper Tamar Area of Great Landscape Value and within two miles of two other AGLVs. There’s already a solar farm on the south-eastern boundary of the site and another about one km southwest. The three solar farms together would create a vast industrialised landscape.

Devon CPRE Director Penny Mills says, “As a result of the pandemic, more people are choosing to move to the countryside to work remotely from home, but they’ll be in for a shock if this solar farm gets planning consent. The fields of grazing livestock will be replaced by row upon row of solar panels surrounded by mile upon mile of security fencing. There are four operational solar farms - as well as five operational wind turbines - within two miles of the proposed site. We don’t see any justification for yet another one.”

Dr Phil Bratby, Devon CPRE trustee and energy spokesman, says, “Like all solar farms, Derril Water will produce an intermittent amount of electricity when we least need it - at mid-day in summer - and none when we most need it when it is cold and dark in winter. Careful examination of the Planning Statement shows the developer has exaggerated the emissions savings as they have ignored the carbon footprint of the proposal and the impact of its intermittent and unpredictable output on gas-fired power stations used to balance the grid (supply must equal demand at all times).”

Full details of the proposal, planning application 1/0249/2021/FULM, are given on the Torridge District Council website: https://publicaccess.torridge.gov.uk/online-applications/

Devon CPRE plans to formally object to the proposed solar farm.