A 49 MW solar farm planned across 78 ha of agricultural land on the Hampshire Downs had met with considerable opposition from local residents. With the government restating its aim in early 2015 to direct solar farms away from the best and most versatile agricultural land, a second planning application for a slightly reduced area needed to be supported by a detailed Agricultural Land Classification survey and report. However, the validity of the submitted report was called into question and Land Research Associates was appointed by solicitors acting for one of the objectors to review the report and verify its findings.
The soils of the application area are developed on a very flinty geological deposit and the stoniness of the topsoils was a key factor in classifying the agricultural quality of the site. Consequently the LRA Agricultural Land Classification survey not only involved grid-based observations of soil characteristics but also quantitative measurement of stone content. This found that, while much of the land was not within the best and most versatile category, a quarter of the site was. That contrasted with only 6 ha of best and most versatile land claimed by the applicant’s consultant.
This information was presented to TVBC’s planning committee but a holding direction by the local government secretary forbade the council from acting on their decision until he had the opportunity to review the plans. The Eveley Farm solar park was granted final approval on 27 July by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark
LRA are experts in agricultural land classification. If you have a similar project you wish to discuss, or have a related enquiry, please contact Mike Palmer on +44 (0)1509 670570 or firstname.lastname@example.org