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Resident threatens more legal action over village solar farm

ABROUGHTONGifford man has threatened to take Wiltshire Council to court again over a solar farm near his house which, he says, is 70% bigger than it should be.

Dan Gerber has been fighting the solar farm at Norrington Common in Broughton Gifford since it was built in 2014. He says there are too many panels – 155 rows instead of the planned 93 – and that the planning application wasn’t completed properly.

Dan, who can see the solar farm from his 300 years-old house, has already taken the council to court once and was told his claims were valid but the challenge came too late.

Now he is threatening to take the council to court again, this time for what he says is a ‘refusal to enforce’ the law despite having acknowledged that the farm is too big.

Dan told Melksham News, “Wiltshire Council has to take enforcement action. The planning committee rejected […] the plans for the much larger solar installation (70% larger than the approved plans) in September 2014.

“No one would be allowed to build a house that was 70% larger than the approved planning permission, would they?

“If I bring judicial review, it will force the Wiltshire Council to take enforcement action.”

Judicial review is a process in which a court decides whether a public body – such as a council – has taken the right action. The court could order the council to take action, in this case, if it found the situation was not being handled properly.

An email sent last month from a planning officer at the council said Wiltshire was not refusing to enforce, but is in contact with the owners of the solar farm “to consider what solutions are available”. The officer said the council is expecting a new planning application from the owner of the solar farm.

The solar farm was originally owned by TerraForm, a subsidiary of American solar giant SunEdison. SunEdison went bankrupt last year and Terraform recently sold all its UKsolar farms except Norrington Common.

Dan claims it only built the farm in the first place so it could harvest renewable energy subsidies from the British Government.

He said, “Greed is the motivating factor – not the environment or the people of Wiltshire.”

Wiltshire Council did not respond to Melksham News’s questions about why no action has been taken.