Giant solar farm next to Hampshire Roman ruins gets green light after U-turn

Leigh Harrison, Chairman of Bramley Solar Farm Residents Group, said: “Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council are guilty of throwing away our Roman history by waving this planning app without due care and attention.

“I don’t think our Roman heritage was even considered by the council… and that’s a farce.”

Harrison said more than 4km of trail around the site will be “destroyed” by the farm.

He said: “There are Roman roads that radiate through the area from the walls as they link the site to London, Winchester and Bath – we don’t know what lies alongside these routes and we may now be unable to know.

“I am in favor of renewable energies and harnessing solar energy, but the plans need to be proportionate and in the right place with the right local infrastructure.

“The plans for the proposed solar farm tick none of those boxes. The continued industrialization of our countryside will permanently destroy the rural character of Bramley and Silchester.”

Harrison added: “Essentially, the planning inspector decided that the terrible impact of this vast monstrosity of glass and steel on our precious local landscape, covering our best and most versatile lands and on top of our important archaeological remains, was somehow justified by its greenwashing credentials and generating huge profits for invisible investors and landowners”.

‘Lost to future research’

Professor Michael Gordon Fulford CBE, an expert on Roman Britain, has previously warned that building a solar farm a stone’s throw from the site, originally established during the Iron Age, would mean it would be “lost to future research”.

Professor Fulford said: “We know very little about the Roman city, never mind its Iron Age predecessors, and even less about its interaction with the surrounding countryside.

“This proposed development threatens our ability, in the medium to long term, to advance our knowledge of the landscape context of the unique monument that is the Iron Age and Roman Calleva.”

He added that the development “substantially undermines the integrity of the setting of what is undoubtedly one of England’s most important ancient monuments”.

Ranil Jayawardena, a Conservative MP for North East Hampshire, has also previously opposed the plans.

Walking trails through open fields in the area offer people the chance to see deer and six pairs of nesting red kites.

Enso Energy said it declined to comment but is “satisfied” with the decision.

Harrison and his protest group urged residents to lobby the council to try to get a judicial review.

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