Campaigners are delighted by the tough stance taken by regulator Historic England regarding the proposal by Dorset based One Planet Limited to build a solar farm on a key part of the Wars of the Roses battlefield of Edgecote in Northamptonshire.
The application by One Planet Ltd suggests that in the company’s opinion, the development of the solar farm would have only localised and insignificant effects and therefore it does not require any environmental impact assessment.
However, writing to the local planning authority, South Northamptonshire Council, in response to the proposal, which is still at the early stage of screening opinion, Historic England Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Neil Rimmington states that,
“…from the available information, Historic England considers that there will be a significant environmental effect in terms of the historic environment. In particular, the proposal is within the Registered Battlefield of the Battle of Edgcote 1469 (National Heritage List for England 1413782) a sensitive site of national importance.”
The letter concludes,
“Even at this early stage this scheme appears potentially very harmful to a nationally important heritage asset, before the applicant invests further resources in this project and associated investigations we would strongly recommend they approach us directly for pre-application advice in order that they fully understand the sensitivity of the location Historic England’s likely position, advice and recommendations to the planning authority.”
Other heritage bodies, including the Battlefields Trust and the Northamptonshire Battlefields Society also oppose the application and particularly the suggestion that an environmental impact assessment is not required, primarily because the solar farm is defined by the applicant as a temporary structure.
While the local authority may grant permission for the applicant to go forward to make a full planning application, where expensive archaeological and ecological studies would almost certainly be required, campaigners hope that the tough stance taken by Historic England, particularly the hint that the body would continue to oppose the project, will be enough to see the proposed solar farm relocated to a site where construction would do less harm.