A stock photo of Iron bridge in Shropshire, England

Council challenging solar farm decision in High Court

Telford and Wrekin Council has confirmed that it has decided to go to the High Court to challenge a decision from the government to allow a new solar farm in the area.

The new solar farm was refused planning permission by the council, with the planning inspector agreeing with the decision, however the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities made the decision to overturn the refusal in March. With this giving the New Works solar farm the green light to go ahead, the council believes that there are ‘arguable legal grounds’ to challenge the decision of the Levelling Up Department on the basis that local planning policy had not been ‘fully understood or lawfully applied.’

Situated between Arleston and Lawley, the farm would take up 99 acres of land and would hold the ability to produce more than 28,500 MWh of electricity every year. This would be enough to power more then eight thousand local homes, as well as creating jobs and supply chain opportunities through its construction and maintenance.

Shaun Davies, Leader of the Council, said:

“Telford and Wrekin Council is the local planning authority for the area earmarked for New Works solar farm and will mount a legal challenge on the government’s decision to grant planning permission for it.

“The complete disregard for local planning policy – which is a legal framework – and how it works to protect the landscape has led our legal advisors to conclude that the government’s decision making has been ‘irrational’ at best.

“The decision goes against the views of our communities, our planning officers, the planning committee and even the government’s own planning inspector, who held a public inquiry into the development last summer.

“As a council, we know the vital importance of renewable energy. We are one of only a few councils to have our own solar farm and we have granted a range of others throughout the borough, but these developments must be made in the right places.

“We urge the government, even at this late stage, to willingly reverse its decision and avoid the need for further legal action.”

The council does have its own solar farm, producing 3.96 GWh of electricity in its first year of operation. Established in 2015, the farm also generated further income for the council which was welcome at a time when local authorities were forced to cut their budgets, something they will be familiar with now.

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