Developers behind a proposed 30-megawatt solar farm near Shrewsbury have appealed a decision to refuse the scheme.

The planning application for the 44-hectare site in Berrington, to the south-east of Shrewsbury, was thrown out by Shropshire Council’s southern planning committee in May 2023, despite a recommendation from planning officers that it should go ahead.

The future of the proposal will now be decided by an inquiry, after developers Econergy lodged an appeal against the decision with the national planning inspectorate.

Rejecting the plan last year, the committee said the loss of farming land, damage to the area’s ecology and adverse visual impact from the 6-metre high panels proposed for the site were not outweighed by the benefits of the scheme.

“It is not considered that the renewable energy benefits of the proposals or the applicant’s justifications for this choice of site are sufficient to outweigh the adverse impact of losing the arable production potential of this best and most versatile land for the 40-year duration of the proposed solar farm,” they said.

The planning application received a large number of public comments, with 194 in support of the proposal and a further 109 in objection.

Tel-Aviv based Econorgy, which also has offices in eight European countries, says the new development would generate sufficient power for 7,000 homes per year over its anticipated 40-year lifespan. The company’s website says they expect to begin operation on the site in 2025.

“The proposal has the potential to offset the average annual UK electricity consumption of approximately 7,000 houses per annum. In this respect, the proposed development represents an exciting project which will make a meaningful contribution to the renewable energy landscape in the UK, thus assisting in reducing our reliance on imported energy and fossil fuels,” they said, in a supporting statement.

Initial statements have now been taken for the inquiry, with the deadline for evidence set for February.

No date has yet been set for a final decision on the plans.