"Many residents of the Alverdiscott area have been writing to me to express their grave concerns about the inadequacy of the consultation, and the information available to them, about the Xlinks Solar Project, and the proposal to construct, over at least five years, a 55-acre industrial site for the conversion and storage of electricity. This site, in the middle of rolling Torridge countryside, is immediately adjacent or close to approximately 9 households, whose quality of life will be profoundly affected.
"I agree with the residents of the area, over 80 of whom attended a meeting with me in Alverdiscott on Friday organised by the parish council at the Community Hall, that so significant a project warrants a much greater effort at pre-application consultation and information by the developer. There is widespread disquiet at the casual approach of the developer to the natural desire of local people to understand the precise impacts on their community and at the paucity of detail available to them. For example, few if any details have been provided of the effect on and intensity of use of the very constricted local road network during the 5-year construction phase.
"I would urge the local planning authority to recommend strongly to the developer extending the time they take before submitting their application to ensure that residents are fully informed and to do all it can to engage with the local communities. I would urge the developer to take heed of these concerns.
"It is important that alternative sites with less impact on these small rural villages and hamlets should be closely considered. For example, some of those attending the meeting on Friday, organised by the parish council, told me that the old showground, closer to the Alverdiscott substation, would present a more acceptable location.
"I have written to the Chief Executive of XLinks to this effect and I am meeting with the company’s representatives this week when I shall be making the same representations."