Like other local residents, I have been looking carefully at the proposals put forward to create a “Botley West Solar Farm”, which will significantly impact upon Tackley, Wootton, Glympton, Bladon, Woodstock, Long Hanborough, Church Hanborough, Rousham, Eynsham and Cassington in West Oxfordshire.
As we have all seen, this year has highlighted the critical importance of increasing domestic energy production, and renewables must be at the heart of this. We all accept that if we are to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and achieve our ambitious net-zero targets, significant steps will be required.
However, this does not mean that the renewables industry can be given carte blanche to develop huge greenfield sites which can have both a negative impact on our countryside and a negative impact on the character of our local areas. It is imperative to ensure renewable energy schemes are facilitated in appropriate places.
Having looked at the plans for Botley West in detail, I have grave concerns about the size and scale of these proposals, which appear to represent a disproportionate threat to agricultural land in West Oxfordshire.
The construction of solar farms on fertile farmland should not be a first resort. High-quality farmland must be sufficiently protected, especially at a time where food security must be maintained and enhanced.
Further, these proposals risk losing vast swathes of our iconic open countryside, enjoyed by residents and visitors to the area, and a habitat rich in biodiversity. While we must rightly pursue decarbonisation, as all conservationists know, it would be foolish to do so in a way that is destructive to our natural environment.
I am keen to engage closely with local residents on this matter to ensure that I am able to reflect the strength of local feeling in detail. To enable me to better understand local opinion, I have created a short survey on the proposals. If you have a few moments, please do complete the survey and let me know your views.
I am clear that the views of our local community must be heard, and this survey will help me to represent West Oxfordshire on this matter.
Robert Courts MP
You can learn more about the proposals by viewing the documents below.