Applications that have been approved give little information regarding why they were approved, and even less information about how the information and arguments were made and balanced.
This information can only be found in applications that have been refused.
The decision notices (written by the Planning Officer, Planning Committees, or even Planning Inspector) will include the main objections to that particular solar development, and can subsequently provide you with examples and arguments you can quote in your objections and campaigns.
Where can I find a list of solar farms that were refused?
Every quarter the UK Government publish an updated list of renewable energy projects around the UK. This lists ALL applications that are or have been in the planning system, and it is available as a downloadable spreadsheet. This means you can filter it for developments you are particular interested in, such as a ground mounted solar PV for example.
Within the database it tells you the name and location of the development, size in MW, type of development, local authority who makes the decision, application number, and whether it was refused or approved.
You can find the latest spreadsheet here >> https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/renewable-energy-planning-database-monthly-extract
If you don’t have time to look through all the refused applications then may we suggest looking at those in your local authorities area and those that were refused at appeal.
Refused Applications of Interest
Here at CARE Suffolk we haven’t looked at all of the refused applications. However, there are a few that have been of use to us which are listed below, along with why we found them useful, as well as other refusals of particular note:
Valley Farm, Suffolk, IP9 2AX – 38.43ha solar PV farm – refused at appeal 2nd June 2014 – appeal ref: APP/D3505/A/13/2204846
This application was particularly useful as it deals with a Special Landscape Area, and includes a strong argument for BMV agricultural land. (The landscape argument in this appeal was the template for our landscape objection for solar PV farms in the Bramford area).
Sawston Solar Farm Limited, Cambridgeshire – 28MW & 14MW solar PV farm – refused at appeal 15th June 2014 – appeal refs: APP/W0530/W/15/3012014 and APP/W0530/W/15/3013863
This application cites inappropriate development in the Greenbelt (specifically preventing neighbouring towns from joining and assisting in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment) and use of BMV land. However, most notable in this refusal is regarding the nearby grid connection:
At paragraph 19 of the Decision Notice “The Secretary of State agrees with the Inspector that no weight attaches to the assertion that a connection to the national grid is an essential site requirement.”
At paragraph 48 of the Planning Inspector’s report “The benefits of a connection to the grid are noted but this is one of many development constraints that a developer has to take into account and should not be afforded weight.”
At paragraph 49 of the Planning Inspector’s report “No weight should be attached to [inter alia] the availability of a grid connection.”
At paragraph 76 of the Planning Inspector’s report “A connection to the national grid is an essential site requirement and the availability of a connection in a part of the network with capacity to accept the output is of assistance to the appellant but it does not bring a public benefit and adds no weight to the planning case for the proposals.”
Hilfield Farm, Aldenham – 49.9MW solar PV farm & BESS – refused by unanimous planning committee 18th November 2021 – application number: 21/0050/FULEI
Refused as inappropriate development in the Green Belt and harm to designated heritage assets. Of note is that the Planning Officer recommended it for approval.