Redbourn solar panel scheme rejected

The land opposite Redbourn golf club which has been earmarked for a solar panel array

The land opposite Redbourn golf club which has been earmarked for a solar panel array - Credit: Archant

An estate which pushed for the rejection of its ambitious solar panel scheme to be overturned has been knocked back again.

The planning inspectorate has dismissed a proposal to install fixed ground-mounted solar panel arrays in the Green Belt, at Waterend House at the Ayot Estate, Waterend Lane, Wheathampstead.

St Albans district council had been asked by the estate for permission to install the panels in three rows of 20x3.5 metres, separated by a five metre gap. The solar panel array would have been about two metres high with a total footprint, including gaps, of 441 square metres.

With the scheme to provide 30kW of renewable power, estate representatives told the council it would help the government tackle climate change and encourage sustainable renewable energy resources.

Wheathampstead parish council did not object to the scheme, but it was turned down by the district council which said it was inappropriate development in the Green Belt and would be “visually harmful” to the area’s openness and rural character.

The application site is currently a grassed paddock.

Planning inspector Peter Jarratt pointed out that an earlier application for solar panels with a different configuration was refused in 2012 because of its size and siting in the Green Belt – it had a footprint of 250 sq m and a height of 2.46 m.

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Echoing the council’s comments, he said that the panels would have a “significant visual presence by virtue of their scale and footprint, which I consider would lead to a material loss of openness of the Green Belt.”

Mr Jarratt added: “The proposal would also conflict with one of the purposes of the Green Belt which is to assist in the safeguarding of the countryside.”

He said it was inappropriate development, “harmful to the Green Belt” and that its size and scale would appear intrusive, despite the panels having a non-reflective coating to reduce glare.

The appeal site comprises a Grade II listed building, Waterend House, built in the 1600s and considered by English Heritage as an exceptionally complete example of a mid-17th Century medium country home.

Mr Jarratt said the solar arrays would be located close enough to the house for the top part of the panels to be visible from the upper windows.