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Botley West Solar Farm

Volume 738: debated on Tuesday 24 October 2023

I rise to present a petition on behalf of the constituents of Witney and West Oxfordshire, who have grave concerns about the Botley West solar farm proposals. We all accept the critical importance of increasing domestic energy production and reducing emissions. Renewables must be at the heart of that, but that does not mean that there can be carte blanche to develop huge greenfield sites, which would have a negative impact on both our countryside and the character of local areas.

The construction of solar farms on fertile farmland should not be a first resort. The proposals risk losing vast swathes of iconic open countryside that is vital for local amenity and rich in biodiversity. We must pursue decarbonisation, but not in a way that is destructive to our natural environment. I have engaged closely with local residents on this matter and I have run a similar petition online to the one I am submitting, which has received 2,022 signatures.

The petition states:

“The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to reject the application when it is presented and immediately update the National Planning Policy Framework to give clearer, stricter guidance on the appropriate location, scale and design of solar farms, including the definition to be used when sites are declared to be ‘temporary’, furthermore that this updated guidance give weight to factors such as the preservation of farmland for food security, local amenity, overall scale and impact upon the local community, rural character and green belt preservation.”

Following is the full text of the petition:

[The petition of residents of Witney and West Oxfordshire,

Declares that the large scale solar farm application known as "Botley West Solar Farm" is detrimental to the local community, notes that its scale and design are incompatible with the current infrastructure of the area; further declares that preservation of farmland for food security, local amenity, rural character and green belt preservation must take precedence when considering solar farm applications.

The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to reject the application when it is presented and immediately update the National Planning Policy Framework to give clearer, stricter guidance on the appropriate location, scale and design of solar farm including the definition to be used when sites are declared to be "temporary", furthermore that this updated guidance give weight to factors such as the preservation of farmland for food security, local amenity, overall scale and impact upon the local community, rural character and green belt preservation.]

[P002866]