Posted by: westlancashirerecord | April 24, 2016

A Decisive Solar Farm Victory For “Protect Aughton’s Landscape Together”

We last wrote about the two Aughton & Downholland solar farm applications, at “Land To The West Of Back Lane, Aughton”, and at “Land To The Rear Of Old Waggoners Cottage, Formby Lane, Aughton”, in October 2015. Both applications were refused planning permission. “The Council Chamber was full of local residents and opponents of the applications. A brilliant and unanimous decision for Aughton. The Officers are to be congratulated for their work”.

The applicants, BE Renewables be , could still appeal, right up to 8th April 2016, and surprise surprise, they did so on the Easter Weekend, 26th March. So the PALT team contacted WLBC Planning after the holiday and ultimately received information that the start of the process was 5th April, giving an end date for objections and comments of 10th May. The sting in this tail from the Planning Inspectorate was that everyone who originally wrote a letter of objection to WLBC had to be contacted informing them that an appeal had been made, the whole 900+ who had done so!

The WLBC Planning Department had no way of meeting this target, due to this high volume of objections. WLBC Planning contacted the Inspectorate to ask for an extension, which was agreed, only last week, and the new deadline was set as 24th May. Letters were due to go out in the week commencing 25th April.

It will come as no surprise that PALT quickly got them-selves together and arranged a meeting with the Appeals Officer at WLBC, who was more than helpful to them. On 6th April they escorted her on a site visit and on 7th April they had a meeting with her.

BE Renewables had also put in a claims cost against the Council, which would be truly insulting for the council tax payers of West Lancashire.

PALT paltgroup started work on their arguments for the Appeal, when out of the blue they received a phone call from Appeals officer Eileen Woollacott on Thursday 21st April advising that BE Renewables had withdrawn their appeal and their claim for costs. Their reasons are outlined in the letter copied below.

PALT immediately asked the obvious question, could BE Renewables “re-appeal” and were advised once an appeal is withdrawn the entire application is null and void. Or to quote the Planning Department, case closed! Any further actions would require an entirely new planning application. All of which was music to the ears of PALT, let the champagne flow!

BE Renewables cannot now meet the deadline for the current Renewable Obligations bids which finish in March 2017. PALT reasonably suggest that surely they knew this when they submitted their appeal documents only 4 weeks earlier?

PALT perhaps and hopefully believe this now means that other areas will be left alone as these developers now have no time to put in an application, go to appeal and construct a solar site in time to meet the deadline of March 2017. Or, put another way, they will not make as much money out of it!

As you can imagine PALT are all extremely relieved, very excited, and happy to see BE Renewables “skulk away with their tail between their legs”! They hope this fruitless exercise has cost them a fortune and deters any future attempts to try and establish lo-carbon schemes in inappropriate locations. And we say Amen to that!

The letter from BE Renewables
Dear Sir/Madam

Further to my discussions today it is with some regret that I write to advise that we are advising that the above planning appeals are withdrawn along with their associated cost claimsHaving completed the over-wintering bird surveys and submitted this information and on the basis that we are now at the end of April 2016 with no formal inspector or rigid timescales to work to in terms of any decision and taking account of the government’s timescale for closure of the RO as 31st March 2017 we have concluded that on receipt of the appeal being upheld there would be insufficient time remaining to actually build, commission and accredit the site before the RO is closed on the 31st March.

We confirm that we have advised WLBC and you will note that we have copied this email notification to them.

Kind Regards

Bob Ayres

Managing Director
BE Renewables Limited | Hesketh Mount. 92-96 Lord Street. Southport PR8 1JR

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