Campaign groups opposing the huge Botley West solar farm have criticised the firm behind the scheme for running its consultation over the Christmas period.
CPRE Oxfordshire and the Stop Botley West campaign group had asked developer PVDP to delay the second phase of consultation until January. The solar farm is one of the biggest in the world at more than 10 sq km across three sites in Oxfordshire, mostly on Green Belt land.
But PVDP has now published dates on its website and is sticking to its original plan to run the consultation from November 30 to February 8.
Helen Marshall, director of CPRE Oxfordshire, said: “The environmental information alone is likely to run to hundreds, if not thousands, of pages. We believe that if they were genuinely interested in the views of local people, they would be ensuring that the consultation ran at a more appropriate time.
“However, we will be urging everyone to do their best to review the information within the time available and to make their views known.”
In a statement to Thames Tap, PVDP said: “We are planning for this consultation period to run into the new year. Being mindful of the Christmas period – and accounting for this – we have proposed extending our consultation to be open for a period of 10 weeks.
“For context, this is longer than the first phase of consultation we undertook last year, longer than the period we have previously discussed with local planning authorities, and significantly longer than the statutory requirements for consultation on schemes such as Botley West.”
PVDP said a total of nine in-person events are planned, four before Christmas and five after, with none scheduled within the 10 days before Christmas or the first 10 days of the New Year.
The statement went on: “We are designing the consultation period to be accessible, and therefore attending an in-person event is just one way that members of the community can take part in the process.
“We will also be holding an online webinar in the New Year for members of the community to ask questions to the project team, and people can get in touch to ask questions through our range of free-to-use communication channels listed below. Anyone interested in the project can submit feedback during the 10-week period, and they will be able to find out more by visiting our website or by accessing materials at one of our community access points.”
Once the consultation is complete, the next stage will be submission of the development consent order to the Planning Inspectorate because the scheme is so big.
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