Peterborough Council Solar Plan – Site Investigation Requested

logo17:12 Wednesday 12th June 2013
Drive BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

[C]HRIS MANN: A decision on whether the Morris Fen solar farm near Thorney can go ahead has been deferred. English Heritage have urged precaution, and want to investigate the potential for buried remains, the environment in past geological times, and whether changes in hydrology might impact on the preservation of buried remains. Let’s find out what all that means. Nick Harding joins me now. He’s from Peterborough City Council’s Planning Services. Hi Nick.
NICK HARDING: Hello. Good evening.
CHRIS MANN: So we’ve just received the news this evening about this deferrment. So is the Council going cold on it?
NICK HARDING: No, not at all. This is all part of the planning process. Unfortunately we didn’t receive this letter from English Heritage until yesterday evening, so what we’ve done is go through that letter in detail, and have a brief discussion with colleagues at English Heritage. And what we’ve decided to do is to put forward to Committee on Monday a revised recommendation. Originally the recommendation was essentially to approve the development proposal. But in the light of this letter, what we’re asking Committee to do is to formally defer consideration of the application.
CHRIS MANN: And how long might that be for?
NICK HARDING: I don’t know. It’s a simple answer. What we intend to do is sit down with English Heritage officers and discuss a way forward to undertake the necessary work that will form the decision.
CHRIS MANN: I can understand that, because it does sound quite detailed. And it’s English Heritage here, they want to be taking their time. The question that needs to be asked is what does this mean for the other solar farm applications, Newborough, America farm and so on?
NICK HARDING: Well in terms of the archeological work that’s being undertaken at Newborough and America Farm, that’s been going on anyway at a far higher level of detail than is the case at Morris Fen. And that work is ongoing. Morris Fen in our view was not likely to be as significant in archeological terms as the other two sites, and therefore a lighter touch was used in terms of the investigation.
CHRIS MANN: Ok. haven’t you messed up here? because you’ve gone all this way down the line, and then found out that English Heritage have got a real interest in this. You should have known this before, shouldn’t you?
NICK HARDING: No, well we didn’t actually have an objection from English Heritage originally.
CHRIS MANN: But did you ask?
NICK HARDING: Yes. Yes we did. Yes. And their reply said, go ahead local authority and make a decision with due regard to national and local policy. And that’s what ..
CHRIS MANN: What’s been changed there? Why the sudden change?
NICK HARDING: Well I think that both English Heritage and ourselves have received information from Cambridge University Archeological Department. And I think that that has maybe led to English Heritage wanting to take a more precautionary approach.
NICK HARDING: What I wouldn’t want to do is to make any assumptions over what level of work needs to be done on the site.
CHRIS MANN: If a university has got involved, and it’s enough for English Heritage to put the brakes on, we can presume this is going to be a while.
NICK HARDING: Not necessarily. No. What we’ve got to do is to sit down and work out what is the best way of doing the necessary investigation works. And then we can move on from there.
CHRIS MANN: Nick, thank you for joining us. Just announced in the last few moments really that that’s happening. The Morris Fen solar farm decisionĀ§ deferred, after English Heritage got involved and said that there are soem geological and other reasons that the building .. the application cannot yet ne approved. Nick Harding there from Peterborough City Council’s Planning Service. Thank you for that.