Backers of planned new solar farm covering over 50 hectares of Herefordshire farmland have been told they will have to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) before it can go ahead.

The request for a “screening” opinion on the plan for land at Sintons End Farm, Acton Beauchamp, was submitted last month by Sintons End Solar Farm Ltd, a company incorporated in September.

Herefordshire Council development manager Kelly Gibbons concluded that although the anticipated output of the solar farm would be below the 50-megawatt “indicative threshold” for an EIA to be required, its likely visual, heritage and ecological impact outweighed this.

With the fields’ “elevated topography”, the proposed 53.5-hectare installation would be “visible from many viewpoints… including from recreational routes within the Malvern Hills AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) and from listed buildings”.

The farm’s submission “has also not detailed the local ecology and biodiversity, which… has the potential to be significantly impacted upon”, Ms Gibbons added.


While the original application remains unpublished, a map of the proposed site shows it covering two irregular parcels of land to the north and east of Sintons End Farm, between the hamlets of Acton Beauchamp and Acton Green.

Solar farms above 50MW output require a so-called development consent order from the Government, while smaller such farms still generally require planning permission.

However, national planning policy now encourages councils to promote renewable energy developments, particularly on lower-grade farmland as well as on previously developed, contaminated and industrial land.

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