Minutes extraordinary PC meeting June 2022

Withington Group Parish Council
Extra Ordinary Meeting Held on Wednesday 22nd June 2022
At 7.30pm at Westhide Church

Present: In the Chair: Kevin Hewison (KH); Howard Mansell (HM); Alison Bainbridge (AB); Judith Howe (JH); Anna Green (AG); Julie Williams (JW); Ingrid Heatly (IH); Tom Nellist (TN);

Also: Sophie Glover (Clerk), 9 members of public.

The Meeting opened at 7.30pm
Time was allowed from 7.30pm for members of the public to raise any issues that they would like the Parish Council to consider (limited to no more than 3 minutes per person).
Those present were all there to talk about item 3, so waited until then to talk.

1. To accept Apologies for absence –Barclay Rogers (BR); Jonathan Beech (JB); Bob Rudd (BR); Bob Wood (BW); Paul Hudd (PH); Sue Rudd (SR); Simon Dent (SD); Paul Andrews (Ward Cllr); John Bennett (DrJ);

2. To receive Declaration of Interests.
None received

3. Planning –
To consider comments on applications to be determined by Herefordshire Council as listed below or on the Herefordshire Council Planning website prior to the meeting:-

214619: TEKSS Solar farm, Westhide.
Comments from the public: All present had already written letters of objection to this planning application. JH explained that the tree officer had found some trees that needed better protection, ie to be given wider clearance particularly with the main hub having to be moved away from particular trees.

There was a discussion about the fact that transformers/invertors do make a hum, these will be located in every field.

TEKSS seem to have ignored all of our requests, ie construction hours, avoiding the best quality agricultural land. Trees being planting in mitigation will be put in as Whips so will take 10 – 15 years before they can provide adequate cover.

AG had put out a Survey Monkey questionnaire to Westhide residents – this showed that many residents had not put in a comment whilst they did still object.

A member of the public suggested that 3 big windmills out at sea would generate the same power as this huge acerage, the point was raised why not just do this?

JH asked if Westhide residents had anything new to bring to the PC prior to them signing off their comment on this application. The residents asked if they could have a meeting with Ward Councillor prior to it being taken to committee. Suggestion that we ensure that he will attend at the July PC meeting, but it was also suggested that Westhide residents could arrange a meeting themselves for him to address any concerns that they might have prior to the next meeting in July.

It was moved to submit the paper suggested: Proposed by IH Seconded: TN All were in favour.
It was resolved to submit the attached to the planning department: There were some additional comments submitted by AB which were approved by the meeting. JH to make some further amendments to the final document for all to agree prior to the clerk submitting it on Monday 27th.

Action: clerk to submit the attached the comment once JH has made final amendments.

4. Financial:
a. Balances
Public Sector Deposit Fund (31.12.21) £ 14,122.79
Lloyds Parish Acct (05.01.22) £ 20,179.16
Lloyds Withington Field Acct (31.12.21) £ 9,607.97 £43,972.92

b. Cheques to be paid
Parish Acct:-
Clerks Salary £ 578.23
Clerks Expenses £ 54.16 £ 632.39
PAYE £ 144.40
£ 776.79

Withington Field Acct:-
Countrywide grass cutting (invoice 237042) £ 180.00
TerryGriffiths Inv 1748 Covid spraying £ 120.00
Inv 1918 Covid spraying £ 120.00
Inv 1919 H&S checks £ 52.80 £ 292.80
Herefordshire Council – bins £ 168.35
TImberplay – Invoice 9795 £1,223.64
£ 1,864.79

Total cheques: £2,641.58

It was moved that all cheques should be paid.

Proposed: Chair Seconded: All cllrs were in favour of making the payments.

5. Update on any Parish issues: Defibrillators have now arrived in Preston Wynne, the Westhide one will be kept there until its location is agreed.
Duke St enforcement is still on going.
The pavement on Duke St has disappeared, this should be reinstated and there should be a new pavement added to this.

Action: Clerk to add to next meeting agenda. Simon Hobbs to be invited to next meeting to discuss roads.

6. Receive items for the next agenda (no discussion) Nothing suggested apart from the invitation to Simon Hobbs from Herefordshire Council.

7. Agreed time and date of next meeting: 14th July 2022 starting at 7.30pm.

The meeting closed at 8.58pm

Signed: _________________________ Date: _________________

Dates for 2022 meetings:

14th July 7.30 pm start
22nd September 7.30 pm start
17th November 7.30 pm start


WGPC Suggested Comments on the following planning application –
TEKSS Solar Farm Application No 214619
WGPC welcomes the opportunity to further comment on this application and having read all the submissions and revisions our position has not change
The WGPC objects to this application as it conflicts with the WGPC Neighbourhood Plan – NDP policy P.13 and the Herefordshire Core Strategy PSD2 – 2, 3, and 4.
NDP policy p13 is not meet. This permits small scale development that is of community benefit. Clearly the proposed solar site is not small scale. The argument that is of community benefit is disingenuous. Within the context of a neighbourhood plan clearly community is defined as those living in the area and not wider society. There is no community benefit arising from the proposals.
Use of grade 1 and 2 agricultural land. The application states that it is inevitable that good quality land will be sacrificed in order to provide sustainable energy and seeks minimise the loss to local agriculture the scheme entails. The recently approved solar farm at Larport , Dormington was specially placed on poor land with a strategic aim of avoiding grade I and 2 demonstrating that it is possible to site a soar farm within the county with out detriment to the availability of good land.
The recently launched Food Strategy (June13) highlights the need to increase food production to enhanced the nations food security. Grade 1 and 2 land is key to this drive.
Viability. The application is based on creating maximum output and profit for its stake holders. It states that the size of the site is essential to be financially viable. There is a gulf between maximum profit and financial viability
Other viabilities are being overlooked in the drive for money. The viability of agriculture, maintaining landscape and the continued, much valued, peace and tranquillity that a rural landscape brings. This tranquillity is key to maintaining and enhancing mental health both for residents, walkers and holiday makers.
Landscape and visual impact. The Parish Council disagrees with the comments re visibility of the site and the inter play of poly tunnels. There are several points where both will be visible-more polytunnel have been erected since the surveys were completed and this might, explain the difference. The various LVA’s give an indication of a view from a fixed point. In practice one moves across a landscape sampling differing views and aspects of the landscape (of polytunnels and solar panels)
Noise Two specialist noise reports have been commissioned with somewhat differing results. The. The Environmental Heath officers report pre dates the submission of the second noise assessment commissioned by a local resident) and it would seem they might be in the best place to comment upon the differing results
The Parish Council has no expertise is this area but notes that the possibility of noise from inverters remains a live concern for some residents
Construction. In the Parish Council’s original objection requests were mead to limit the hours of construction, beyond the normal no working Saturday pm and Sunday. This request still stands.
Trees and arboriculture matters. The parish Council is pleased to see that any planting will happen in the first available planting season. The Parish Council is concerned that in interest of economy TEKSS may seek to plant the smallest hedge and trees that are available rather than in investing in stock that will more quickly shield the development. It notes that any dead tree/hedge will be replaced during an annual autumn inspection. Until a sufficient canopy or hedge is established. Who will monitor this compliance?
With regard the identification of some significant trees that were missed by the report commission by TEKSS the Parish Council is keen to see these given the utmost protection. The suggestion of a buffer of 15x diameter of each tree at1.5 meters must be regarded as a minimum. The trees are important in their own right but also form a key part of the landscape.
Numbers of objectors/supporters. TEKSS states that very few residents of Westhide have objected and that those who have not must be assumed to in support. There are significantly more letters of objection than support, even allowing for multiple letters from the same household
The Parish Council conducted a Survey Monkey inviting views on a range of issues connected to the application. Six people responded that they object to the scheme but, for a variety of reasons, had not submitted a formal objection. Silence should not be deemed consent.
Community Fund. The parish Council have had exchanges with TEKSS about this. The recent Consultation Statement answers several questions that the parish council has be seeking to clarify. A unilateral agreement is mentioned which would seem the best way to secure any funds. The community consensus is that any fund should be used to enhanced St Bartholomew Church to enable it to better serve as a community venue.
The Parish Council does not support this scheme.
If Herefordshire Council determines against this view we would ask
Conditions be in placed re noise once the scheme is completed
Limits to times of construction imposed beyond the norm,
A unilateral agreement re Community Fund be in place
Robust protection is given to recently identified ancient and veteran trees
Planting involves larger trees and hedging.