Success for solar cable protestors

First published in News by , Reporter

A SIX-month battle in Lover to get a solar farm high voltage cable re-routed has ended in success.

Members of the New Forest National Park Authority (NFNPA) voted unanimously on Tuesday to delegate the adoption of the preferred route to a planning officer.

It means the cable route will no longer pass along Black Lane, School Road and Whiteshoot Hill but instead go through the Hamptworth Estate and up Forest Road before going into The Ridge and Slab Lane.

Developer Prosolia Solar Energy agreed to change the route following an “overwhelming” backlash to the plans, which saw a petition and hundreds of letters sent to planning officers.

A public meeting in October saw more than 100 residents gather to question the parties involved in the solar farm, the outcome of which was a working group set up between local residents and energy companies.

NFNPA case officer Rob Ainslie said the verbal agreement between developers and residents to pursue the preferred route meant that he now had the authority to grant permission.

He added: “It is still subject to the satisfactory consultation on amended plans to be submitted for the proposed southern cable route and removal of consideration of existing cable route.”

Residents in Black Lane declared the outcome a “huge relief”.

Geraldine Neame said: “It’s taken a lot of hard work with many hurdles but I think we got our point over that what they were suggesting was not viable or appropriate. “They have reached a very practical and sensible decision that is acceptable to everybody.”

Redlynch Parish Council chairman Lloyd Perry added: “This is a very positive result - it’s a great advertisement about what can be achieved by working together, not only as a community but also with the developer, who has bent over backwards to work with us.”

Phil Newby of Athene Communications, a community engagement agency hired by Prosolia, said the solar farm project had been on hold for more than six months and cost their client an “enormous” amount of money.

He said: “The contractors and residents group have worked tirelessly to try and find a solution to this so for us this represents a significant hurdle overcome to getting Big Field connected.”

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