A proposed solar farm of unprecedented size, which could power all the homes in Oxfordshire, has been met with quiet optimism by local politicians.

Yesterday (November 3), Photovolt Development Partners (PVDP) launched the first phase of its community consultation for Botley West Solar Farm.

The plans come just a month after a countryside charity called a controversial solar farm at Nineveh Farm, near Nuneham Courtenay, a "monstrous development" that will blight the area. 

If approved, the 1,000 hectare Botley West Solar Farm would be split across three sites in Cherwell, West Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse, much of which comes under the Blenheim Estate.

READ MORE: Oxfordshire County Council reveal start date of 20mph limit

Witney Gazette: The site view of Botley West Solar Farm The site view of Botley West Solar Farm (Image: Photovolt Development Partners (PVDP))

The parts of the huge solar farm would be installed near Botley, in-between Long Hanborough and Kidlington and near Woodstock.

PVDP claims the project could deliver 840MW of green energy to the National Grid, which would be enough to power 330,000 homes across the county.

Lib Dem Vale councillor Debby Hallett, who represents Botley and Sunningwell, said she was “impressed” by what PVDP is proposing after attending an information event.

“The bottom line is that if something like this can power all the homes in Oxfordshire, it is worth serious consideration.

“It is easy to be a NIMBY [acronym for ‘not in my back yard’] but they have to go somewhere.”

The councillor added she felt “pretty confident” about what the developer is offering and noted such developments are needed if the county is to move towards renewable energy.   

Witney Gazette: Botley West Solar Farm south site plan Botley West Solar Farm south site plan (Image: PVDP)

Green county councillor Dr Pete Sudbury, cabinet member for climate change delivery and environment, was equally positive about the potential of the project.

“This farm would go a long way to meet Oxfordshire’s needs. So, in terms of hitting objectives of decarbonising Oxfordshire, it is very exciting,” he said.

However, Dr Sudbury noted final decisions should be made on the balance of nature, farming and the need for green energy, particularly how agriculture could continue around the panels.

Witney Gazette: Botley West Solar Farm middle site plan Botley West Solar Farm middle site plan (Image: PVDP)

On the other hand, West Oxfordshire District Council has stated concerns about the planning process for such a large-scale site, while acknowledging the need for green energy. 

Lib Dem Andy Graham, leader of the council, said: “West Oxfordshire District Council welcomes the Government looking to solar and other forms of sustainable power generation to help us tackle the climate emergency. However, we will need to review the specifics of this proposal to see how this development could impact on West Oxfordshire.

“We will be looking to see that consideration has been given to a wide range of aspects to make sure this works for our local area including our environment, our economy and insuring the community benefits directly from any development.

“We are very concerned that given the intrusive nature of what is being proposed that the applicant appears to be circumventing the planning authority’s normal practice. By using three distinct separate sites as a single application and leaving it to the Secretary of State to decide it does not give each area effected the chance to give their own view through the normal planning process on behalf of local communities.

“We will respond to the consultation and encourage local people to do the same with any views they have on the solar farm.”

Witney Gazette: Botley West Solar Farm north site plan Botley West Solar Farm north site plan (Image: PVDP)

A spokesperson for PVDP said: “PVDP has over 18 years of experience developing solar farms across Europe and Japan and are committed to delivering clean, affordable energy generation in the UK.

“We are working with industry-leading experts to design an environmentally led project for Botley West that will deliver significant benefits for habitats and wildlife as well as creating new recreational access for local people.

“We encourage the local community to provide their feedback and come along to our consultation events.”

The consultation will run until December 15 and further information can be found here: botleywest.co.uk/Home-Botley-West


Read more from this author

This story was written by Sophie Perry. She joined the team in 2021 as a digital reporter.

You can get in touch with her by emailing: sophie.perry@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @itssophieperry

A message from our Editor

Thank you for reading this story and supporting the Oxford Mail.

If you like what we do please consider getting a subscription for the Oxford Mail and in return we’ll give you unrestricted access with less adverts across our website from the latest news, investigations, features, and sport.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tik Tok for more. 

You can also join the conversation in our Facebook groups: stay ahead of traffic alerts here, keep up to date with the latest from court here, share your favourite memories of Oxford here, get your daily dose of celebrity news here and take some time out with news that will make you smile. 

If you’ve got a story for our reporters, send us your news here. You can also list an event for free here.