Moving into construction

Coombeshead Solar Farm has now been taken on by Belltown Power, who will take it through construction and into operation over the coming months.

The planned programme will see initial access track and preparation works happening over the next two weeks, with the majority of installation and construction taking place from mid-January to mid-February. Panels are expected to be mounted in early February and connection to the electricity network and first generation is targeted by the end of February. All finalisation and tidy-up works are expected to be finished by April.

We will update you again when construction is in full swing and then hope to report the good news of connection in a couple of months’ time.

sheep grazing

Planning Permission Granted

South Hams District Council today granted Coombeshead Solar Farm planning permission. The meeting held at 11am in Follaton House, Totnes,  was well attended by councillors, members of the public and the applicant to see the outcome of the application.

We will be updating the blog shortly with anticipated timescales for the project. If you have any questions in the mean time please feel free to Contact Us.



Green areas show where solar panels have been removed by AEE

Design Changes

Subsequent to the consultation process, please find below an overview of the final changes which have been made to the application, along with a map depicting where panels have been removed from since the original conception of the project.

Green areas show where solar panels have been removed by AEE

Green areas show where solar panels have been removed by AEE

design changes

The blue numbers in the drawing identify areas where the original layout has been modified. The list below identies the reasons for these changes.

  1. This area was visible from the living areas of two residential properties
  2. As with area 1, but also visible from the road running from Coombeshead Cross to Rolster Bridge.
  3. This area was initially omitted as solar panels installed in the field would have been visible from the garden of two residential properties. Archaeological investigation subsequently found a feature of interest such that the boundary was set even further to the east. It was interesting to discover that both landcape and archaeological sensitivities helped identify an appropriate location for the boundary, which will now be formed by replacing a historic hedgerow;
  4. The field to the north east is visible from adjoining private land (to the west).
  5. This steeply sloping area is not only less suitable in terms of potential stability, but also has good potential as a habitat for bats (although not currently important bat habitat);
  6. At the public exhibition held at Diptford Village Hall a clear message was given that residents travelling around their locaility did not want to be confronted with another highly visible solar farm. Area 6 would have been highly visible from Coombeshead Cross and other points on the Ridge Road. This area was, therefore, removed; and
  7. Similarly the west side of the southern area is partly visible, particularly in the winter. During the process of assessing landscape and visual impact the decision was taken to pull the boundary away from the Ridge Road to reduce the likelihood that the solar farm would be seen. Subsequent ecological survey identified that planting a woodland at this location would not only provide further screening, but would be highly beneficial to biodiversity. Accordingly, this area is included within the planning applcation, but will be planted with trees rather than hosting solar panels.

Further changes during consultation stage:

  • The steeper section of fields within the northern section have been removed at the request of Natural England to protect semi-improved grassland, thereby enhancing the environmental potential of the site.
  • A 10m corridor between hedgerow and fence was implemented around the whole site, in response to Natural England’s request for an increased buffer zone for bats.

AEE is not taking the full potential capacity and has made reductions of approximately 30% to the total capacity.

sheep grazing

Pre-determination Update

Dear all,

AEE have been working hard behind the scenes since we submitted the planning application. During submission the application goes out to a number of consultants within South Hams District Council, and also to consultants like RSPB and the Environment Agency. We have received a number of positive responses but also some comments which have required further studies and research on our part to back-up our claims within the application. The points we have been addressing are demonstrated below.


Devon County Council (DCC) has advised that the preferred access route that was proposed in the planning application would not be appropriate to use because a weight limit exists just south of Turtley Corn Mill. The limit is due to a weak section of road.

Further discussion with DCC has identified that the best route into the site is via Torbay. The route is under a weight restriction and so an application has been made to DCC to lift this restriction which to our understanding will be accepted. Along with this, Devon County Council have agreed with AEE a date to carry out a Road Condition Survey from Shorter Cross to the site entrance. This route is now proposed and has been deemed acceptable by DCC.


Natural England and the RSPB have questioned whether biodiversity benefit can be delivered. Key concerns include the shading effect on semi-improved grassland, impact on birds and impact on bats. It is an important element of the proposed development that the applicant can demonstrate biodiversity gain or, at least, no harm. From our experience, it is unquestionable that the habitat is enhanced, however we have endeavoured to make further changes to make sure  Natural England and RSPB are happy.

The fence line has been redrawn and peripheral panels have been removed in the design to accommodate a 10m corridor between the fence and hedgerows to allow bats room to safely forage for insects. Waste from sheep and cattle will remain on the site. An appropriate stocking density has been proposed to ensure this will provide the basis for sustenance for bats. The area to the south of the northern area will not be developed and instead will continue in its current management regime, which is occasional grazing.  Ecology would also be enhanced through the planting of over 1000 trees / shrubs. Habitat will be provided for bats, dormice, hare and an increasing diversity of flora.


Natural England and the South Devon AONB have both questioned whether the photographs and montages are representative of the typical views that would be experienced from the AONB.

The original LVIA shows the key views and it is confirmed that Viewpoint 8 is representative of a typical view from that location towards the site.

The AONB Unit and Natural England have both indicated, however, that they have not and do not intend to make a site visit. In the circumstances, it seems appropriate that this addendum to the LVIA is submitted to provide a more exhaustive consideration of the likely impact on the AONB.


In terms of the comments sent to South Hams District Council we have read every single one to make sure we understand the view of the local community. We thank you for these views and they have been a contributing factor to the recent design changes to the plans.

Next stage is the planning committee meeting, which will be at:

Follaton House
Plymouth Road

on the 14th May at 14:00pm.


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