Villagers fury over "gargantuan" solar farm that will "industrialise Green Belt"

File pic of solar farm and, inset, Layla Moran <i>(Image: Canva)</i>
File pic of solar farm and, inset, Layla Moran (Image: Canva)

Residents vented their fury over plans for a "gargantuan" solar farm which an MP said will lead to "the permanent industrialisation of the Green Belt".

Cumnor Parish Council invited Oxford West and Abingdon MP Layla Moran to speak at a packed community meeting attended by 130 people and the campaign group StopBotleyWest.

The 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) solar farm could span three sites - west of Botley, west of Kidlington and north of Woodstock.

More  than 75 per cent of it will be on Oxford’s Green Belt.

Oxford Mail:
Oxford Mail:

Villagers voiced their concerns that the current information available to them indicates that 51 miles of 8-foot high animal-proof security fencing, CCTV cameras and motion-activated IR lights will surround over 150-plus greenbelt fields.

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Layla Moran said: "I absolutely understand the frustration and anger felt by local people.

“Residents are telling me that they are worried about the flood risk, the loss of good agricultural land and the impact on ecologically important wildlife sites that sit next to the proposed sites.

"They also question the need for such a large scale power station which will lead to the permanent industrialisation of the Green Belt."

A final decision on the scheme will be made by the Planning Inspectorate and the Secretary of State,

Lib Dem Ms Moran said this is "completely bypassing any local decision making".

"This is the very opposite of meaningful engagement and a total deficit of democracy. Furthermore I am determined to get to the bottom of how the project is to be funded and have previously raised these concerns in the chamber," she said.

Oxford Mail: Cumnor villagers vent fury over Botley West Solar Farm
Oxford Mail: Cumnor villagers vent fury over Botley West Solar Farm

“Every single person I spoke to told me of their support for renewables, and the need for solar on rooftops however remain unconvinced that this gargantuan project is the right solution for Oxfordshire.

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"I will continue to raise these and other concerns to Government, who must take heed when they make their decisions.”

Developers Photovolt Development Partners said: "Local people are a vital part of the process as we refine the proposals for Botley West... [they] will get a further opportunity to provide their views on the project at our second stage of community consultation."

This is due to start in the autumn.

If the solar farm gets the go-ahead from the secretary of state, building is expected to start in the summer of 2025.