A north Shropshire cheese manufacturer is set to go solar powered after plans for a clean energy scheme were given the go-ahead.

Belton Farm near Whitchurch is set to install 4,000 photo-voltaic panels to power the farm’s cheese-making operation, to reduce energy costs and meet the business’s commitment to becoming carbon-neutral by 2040.

The scheme, proposed by Conrad Energy on behalf of the farm, will generate 2.18Megawatts of electricity at the business which employs around 120 people and produces 8,000 tonnes of cheese every year for national sale.

“Due to soaring electricity costs, the business is looking to install a number of solar arrays to the south of Belton Farm buildings and has been sized to match the on-site energy demands of the business also reducing the carbon footprint of business,” said a report by Shropshire Council’s planning department.


“The proposal would provide significant environmental benefits through the generation of renewable energy for this local business, and it is considered therefore that there is no in principle planning policy objection to the proposal.”

A response from Historic England drew planners’ attention to the location of nearby Pan Castle, around 200 metres (1/10th mile) to the south-west of the development in fields also owned by the firm. The site is a scheduled monument comprising” well preserved” earthwork and buried remains of a motte and bailey castle.

They said views towards Whitchurch from the monument would be interrupted by the solar array, causing “less than substantial” harm to the setting.

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A footpath which forms part of the popular “Belton Bracer” local walking route will also be diverted around the site, after advice from the Ramblers Association.

Approving the scheme, Shropshire Council said it was supported in principle by both local and national policy frameworks.

“The proposed installation of a solar panels on land at Belton Farm would allow the generation of a renewable form of energy to match the on-site energy demands of the business and helping to reduce the carbon footprint of the business,” they said.

“The impact of the proposal on local landscape character and on visual amenity is relatively limited due to the topography of the site, existing vegetative cover and proposed landscaping mitigation. These impacts have been mitigated through the layout and design of the site, and through landscape planting and management.”