IN light of recent concerns the Member of Parliament for Torridge and West Devon has visited residents of Pyworthy and Derriton to discuss a proposed solar panel park.

Sir Geoffrey Cox met residents of Pyworthy and Derriton on Friday, July 23, to discuss proposals for a 160-acre solar panel park in the area that will add to more than 60 acres of solar panels already existing on an adjacent site.

In addition to visiting the proposed location of the site and meeting the landowners, the MP also met those opposing the planning application.

He met with both the Pyworthy Environmental Group (PEG) and the landowners of the farms that will be used for the industrial project. A spokesperson for the PEG said: “We are so pleased that he has taken a personal interest in this project and we felt he took on board our comments that enough is enough as far as solar power development in this rural corner of Torridge. We already have six small scale projects in our parish but the new proposals would turn the west side of Holsworthy into a vast industrial wasteland loosing valuable farming land. We should be proud that our community encourages open discussion of both sides of this proposal but remain sad that the multinational behind the proposal Renewable Energy Solutions (RES) still adamantly refuse to engage in any meaningful way with the local community.”

The MP said he would pass on the views and concerns he had heard to the local planning authority.

Sir Cox said: “I understand the very strong concerns of many local residents that the character of this beautiful landscape will be damaged by the cumulative effect of solar parks nearby, and I would very much prefer to see high quality agricultural land like this being used for traditional agricultural purposes. It is always sad when a community feels itself so divided by an individual planning application in this way.

“But it is important to listen carefully and in detail to each side of the case and, as I have explained to both parties, for that reason planning matters such as this are for the local council to decide. The planning system exists to balance the competing interests in difficult and sensitive applications. It is vital that residents should feel their voice has been heard within that process.”