East Devon solar farm approved by planning inspector

Proposals for a solar and green infrastructure facility that has the potential to provide clean energy for up to 18,500 homes have been approved by the planning inspector at East Devon District Council.
East Devon solar farm approved by planning inspector
Solar farm near Ashburton, Devon. Courtesy of Derek Harper, Wikimedia Commons.

The planning inspector agreed with the original recommendation of East Devon District Council’s planning officers (17th Nov 2022, Committee report) that approval should be granted for the proposals, finding that, “the overall benefits of the development would substantially outweigh the harms it would cause.”

“We are delighted to receive planning approval, and we extend our gratitude to the planning inspector for understanding our case” said Simon Crowe, Director at Taiyo. “This approval will deliver a key solar and green infrastructure facility that will further the climate goals of East Devon and the wider region. Ford Oaks provides a vital opportunity to address East Devon’s sustainability and energy needs by providing a renewable energy source for 18,500 homes. It will also significantly enhance the local area’s biodiversity and nature by delivering a remarkable 121 percent biodiversity net gain. Working together with East Devon District Council and the local community, we are looking forward to bringing Ford Oaks scheme to life, achieving a key milestone in our commitment to supporting the UK’s net zero goals.”

The Ford Oaks Solar & Green Infrastructure Facility is a solar development that would provide renewable energy and bring about 45 hectares of green infrastructure improvements. Situated next to the A30 about four miles east of Exeter City Centre and close to Exeter Airport, the approved scheme will help Devon County Council reach its 2050 net zero target as well as the 2040 net zero target set by East Devon District Council.

The new facility will help provide a renewable energy source that will export 30 MW of power to local electricity circuits. This will reduce CO2 emissions by 7,430 tonnes, which is the same as eliminating 1,600 petrol cars off Devon's roads for a year.

This dependable source of clean energy aligns with the Devon County Green Infrastructure Strategy, the Devon Climate Declaration and government targets to increase solar power capacity to 50GW by 2030.

The plans for Ford Oaks Solar & Green Infrastructure Facility comprises:

Delivery of 121 percent biodiversity net gain, achieved through creating grassland habitats with species-rich seed mixes, Devon traditional meadows, a mosaic of wetland habitats, and beetle and butterfly banks.

Flood mitigation, with new leaky dams and scrapes designed into the scheme to keep surface waters in the fields to reduce flows both onto local lanes and downstream under the A30.

29 hectares of solar arrays designed to permit extensive sheep grazing, allowing for energy production and agricultural use on the same land.

In partnership with local landowners including Devon County Council, Ford Oaks is being delivered by Taiyo Power & Storage, a joint venture between Kajima and Low Carbon Alliance Limited. Since 2021, Taiyo has been putting forward proposals for a number of solar and battery storage sites throughout the UK, in order to support the UK Government’s commitment to achieve net zero carbon by 2050.

For additional information:

Planning Inspector’s Report

Taiyo Power & Storage

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