Rush of renewable energy developments prompts council into consultation on new guidelines

09:49 27 January 2014

Ground mounted solar panels.

Ground mounted solar panels.

Archant

The district council is looking at introducing a set of new guidelines that will seek to protect the character of the area against an increasing number of renewable energy developments.

The council says it is expecting “a number of significant renewable energy applications” over the next year and that it was “vital” that it had adequate guidance to protect the district.

In the last year there have been two applications for large solar farms in Wilburton, another in Stretham and ongoing applications for solar farms spanning hundreds of acres in Soham and Burwell.

As such, the authority has announced a consultation which will take place later this winter on the draft supplementary planning document on commercial scale renewable energy development.

The consultation will look at visual landscape impact and key views, biodiversity and geology and heritage assets, among other areas.

The document will also emphasise the need for developers to undertake meaningful community engagement in developing their proposals.

Cllr Peter Moakes, chairman of the development and transport committee, said: “With East Cambridgeshire already home to solar farms and an anaerobic digestion plant, it is right that we plan now for the future growth of renewable energy industry.

“There is significant potential in the district for the growth of commercial scale energy generation in the years to come but we must make sure it develops in harmony with East Cambridgeshire’s needs.

“This is why we are drafting specific planning documents giving clear guidance for developers and to assist the council in determining planning applications.

“It is very important as always that people take time to look at the consultation and feedback their views and opinions to help us develop East Cambridgeshire for all our benefits.”

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