Wednesday, October 5, 2022
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Decision deferred on solar farm in Tilbury

PLANNING councillors deferred making a decision on plans for a solar farm on Tilbury Marshes so a more complete application could be put together.

At their meeting last Thursday members of Thurrock Council’s planning committee were asked to consider a proposal for a solar farm on land to the south of Marshfoot Road, west of St Chad’s Road (adjacent to the Gateway Academy) and land east of St Chad’s Road, south of Biggin Lane, Tilbury.

It is proposed the farm would comprise of an installation of arrays of PV panels, central inverters, underground cabling, substation, security fencing and CCTV mounted up to three metres high.

However, after details of the scheme were given to members, planning officers informed them of a number of changes to the scenario proposed by the applicants, so much so that Cllr Tunde Ojetola said: “I am concerned about the amount of detail that is not in front of us, there have been issues raised by a number of objections, changes to the application and late information.”

He asked if the matter could be put back to the next meeting so a ‘more complete’ application could be put together and fellow councillors agreed.

The scheme has been recommended for rejection by officers who say it would result in the significant loss of land within Tilbury Marshes to the detriment of the open and exposed character of the landscape.

Before the matter was closed, Cllr Barry Palmer said he was concerned that officers had recommended refusal. He said: “In recent times we have ceded large expanses of the Tilbury Marshes. It seems we were able to justify giving that open space for the Port of Tilbury expansion and the Gateway Academy so how does this stack up?”

Planning officer Matthew Gallagher responded by saying: “Policy for greenbelt then was different to now and we have a slightly different approach for institutional uses.

On its merits it was considered an inappropriate use. It’s all about weighing harm against benefit.”

Committee chair concluded discussion, saying: “It will be better to have one debate and get it right with everything right.”

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