FEARS over developing further into the Meriden Gap saw controversial plans to build a solar farm in Berkswell rejected by planning chiefs.
Proposals put forward by Green Energy UK Direct Ltd would have see panels stretch across a large expanse of Greenbelt land – the size of around 27 football pitches – between Balsall Common and Tile Hill station on the edge of Coventry.
Plans for the site at Nailcote Farm off Hodgetts Lane included a 1.85m high security fence which would be shielded from view by native vegetation.
The project would generate enough energy to power more than 2,000 homes each year and save thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
Campaigners spoke out at the planning meeting on Wednesday (October 29) urging Councillors to refuse the application not only because it will encroach into the Meriden Gap which is a natural boarder between Solihull and Coventry and could breach farming regulations.
Richard Lloyd from Berkswell Parish Council said: “It seems we’ve had to destroy the village in order to save the land and destroy the borough in order to save the planet.
“When we look out of a window there is unused roof space where solar panels can 100 per cent be put on instead of in the Meriden Gap.”
Committee members had a heated debate over protecting the Meriden Gap and whether the very special circumstances in relation to reducing carbon emissions were just cause to give the application the green light.
Speaking at the meeting committee member Coun John Windmill raised the issue that although the Meriden Gap is protected a number of projects have been approved and built on it.
He said: “When I first sat on the Council the Meriden Gap started around where Monarch Airlines are at Birmingham Airport.
“We have seen the extension of the runway which was supported by this Council which is built on Greenbelt in the Meriden Gap.
“The NEC has developed into the Meriden Gap.
“If HS2 is to go ahead it will be developed into the Meriden Gap as will the Garden City project proposed by this Council.
“The solar panels are probably the least intrusive appearance into the Meriden Gap we have told of.”
However the committee voted six votes to three to refuse the application.