Approval has been recommended for two fiercely-opposed solar farms, spanning a total of more than 111 hectares of agricultural land in the Cherwell district.

Cherwell District Council’s planning committee’s June 6 meeting will consider Oxford New Energy’s plans for a 43.78-hectare solar farm on land north of Manor Farm, Noke, near Kidlington (pictured above), which is bounded by the River Ray.

Councillors will then consider JBM Solar Projects 8’s plans for a 59.4-hectare solar farm (67.9 hectares when land for cabling is included) on seven agricultural fields adjacent to Mill Lane, Stratton Audley, near Bicester (pictured below).

Both have attracted well over 100 objections but both have been recommended for approval.

The Oxford New Energy scheme is for a 26.6 megawatt solar photovoltaic array and battery storage for a ‘temporary’ period of 40 years on agricultural, Green Belt land.

Public objections come on top of a host of objections from parish councils. Many refer to its Green Belt location, the loss of prime agricultural land and damage to the local ecology.

The meeting agenda states: “The solar farm, which would only be in place for 40 years, would provide up to 26.6 megawatts of installed electrical generation capacity, delivering significant environmental benefits by reducing carbon emissions.

“The development would thereby assist with delivering the council’s commitments under the climate emergency and Climate Action Framework 2020.”

The JBM Solar Projects 8 scheme is for a 44 megawatt solar photovoltaic array and battery storage, again for a ‘temporary’ period of 40 years, although it is not on Green Belt land.

Objections include the loss of productive farmland and some state the application’s ecology reports are inaccurate and incomplete. Two parishes have objected.

The meeting agenda states: “When considered as a whole, the economic, social and wider environmental benefits of the scheme outweigh any adverse effects on landscape character and the visual amenities of the area.

“The proposal is therefore considered to represent a sustainable form of development and it is recommended that planning permission be granted.”

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