Peterborough energy park decision could be delayed

Peterborough City Council owned land near Newborough earmarked for an energy park, despite protests. Photo, September 2012: Paul Franks
Peterborough City Council owned land near Newborough earmarked for an energy park, despite protests. Photo, September 2012: Paul Franks
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Wednesday, 3.30pm: A decision on a major energy park in Peterborough could be delayed after planning officers recommended more archaeological work be carried out.

The Planning and Environmental Protection Committee is due to meet on Monday, 17 June to consider the planning application for a solar farm on land to the East of Black Drove, Thorney, known as Morris Fen.

Officers had given a recommendation to approve the plans, but after new comments were received from statutory consultee English Heritage this week have led planning officers to change their recommendation.

If the scheme is given the green light, 144,060 solar panels would be built on a 100 hectare site on land east of Black Drove at Thorney.

It is claimed it would create 14 jobs and is expected to produce 26MW of electricity.

A 2.4 metre high fence would be put up around the site and 18 CCTV stands of five metres height would also be installed and a network of roads would be set down.

English Heritage had originally raised ‘no objection’ to the application within the statutory consultation period stating: “it should be determined in accordance with national and local policy guidance, and on the basis of... specialist conservation advice.”

However a further representation was received from English Heritage on Tuesday night, after Monday’s meeting had already been called and the agenda published. It stated: “Whilst it is by no means certain that there are deep archaeological remains on the site, English Heritage considers that a precautionary approach should be taken which further investigates the potential for buried remains, the environment in past geological times and whether any changes in hydrology might impact on the preservation of buried remains.”

The Committee must now still meet to consider the change in recommendation by planning officers and will ultimately decide if the meeting goes ahead or not.

Nick Harding, from Peterborough City Council’s planning services, said: “In light of new comments made on the application by English Heritage, which were received on Tuesday evening, planning officers have changed their recommendation and are now recommending that the committee defers consideration of the application until the matter of archaeology can be satisfactorily addressed.

Planning officers will be writing to all those that have objected to the application to advise them of the situation.

Related link: Meeting agenda: Planning and Environmental Protection Committee - Monday 17th June, 2013 5pm - peterborough.gov.uk

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