A Herefordshire fruit farm wants to install over 1,500 solar panels to become more self-sufficient in energy.

S&A Soft Fruits says the planned array of “around 1,567” panels on two farm building roofs at its Brierley Court Farm, south of Leominster, would generate 458,000 kWh a year.

It is seeking prior approval for the plan – that is, confirmation that it does not need planning permission for the work. Planning law enables permitted development of photo-voltaic arrays of up to 1 MW on non-domestic buildings.

“The proposal is to maximise the potential of the site to generate zero-carbon solar electricity that the farm can use as part of its decarbonisation strategy,” a letter accompanying the application from the farm’s agent says.

“It will not be exporting to the National Grid.”


The farm buildings, half a kilometre west of the village of Brierley, are largely surrounded by soft fruit polytunnels and seasonal worker accommodation.

The black non-reflective panels “ would not have a detrimental impact upon the character of the countryside due to being in the backdrop of the existing polytunnels,” the letter says.

Being on the north and south roof slopes would “reduce the visual appearance from the residential properties and would not be visible from the village”, it adds.

The farm, which specialises in growing blueberries, already has a biomass boiler.

The application is expected to be decided by December 5.