An appeal has been lodged over rejected plans for a multi-million pound solar development on farmland in North Yorkshire.

Harmony Energy has confirmed that it is appealing the decision by North Yorkshire councillors last October to dismiss the proposed clean energy scheme on the fringe of Old Malton, in Ryedale.

Members of the planning committee said while they supported efforts to increase renewable energy schemes in the area, they remained unconvinced the proposed site, on land owned by the Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation, at Eden Farm was the only alternative place.

The plans were also opposed by Robert and Emma Sturdy, who live on the 280-acre farm, who launched the ‘Save Our Old Malton Countryside’ campaign following announcement of the proposals.

Harmony Energy said it had decided to appeal because it believed the proposed solar farm would provide a ‘vital piece of energy infrastructure' which would support the net zero transition.

A spokesperson said: "We are in a really good position to provide clean, green energy into the local grid, providing enough power to meet the equivalent demands of a third of Ryedale households. The site is ready to be constructed, with an offer of a viable Grid connection with Northern Powergrid already in place."

The spokesperson added that the the Sturdy family had been offered a 'sizeable' compensation sum which exceeded the statuary entitlement for tenant farmers.

“The sum offered equates to a value of more than eight-times the compensation to which the tenant would be entitled by law. This includes a sizeable lump sum and an annual, index-linked, payment which will exceed what they likely would have earned from the lost farmland."

Emma said: "It is clear that Harmony Energy and the Fitzwilliam Trust Corporation have known for some time they were going to appeal and it is a great shame that our landlord has not consulted with us since the committee hearing in October, particularly bearing in mind the threat of an appeal has continued to have on our business, not to mention our personal well-being.

"We are already seeing more sustainable solar applications come forward in our region such as East Heslerton which clearly demonstrates there are other willing landowners with more suitable sites for solar, that do not impact any lifetime tenants.

"Some four years on, and almost six months since the committee decision to refuse the application, the landlord has made a further offer of compensation. We will be taking advice on this and will respond in due course. However, it is worth noting that when our agent made a counter offer to a previous proposal, the landlord simply failed to formally respond. Nevertheless we remain hopeful that this long running issue is capable of resolution."

Councillors who rejected the initial planning application said the need for food production must not be ignored in the pursuit of rapidly increasing green power.

Officers said while tests to consider alternative sites had “not been satisfactorily met”, the proposal would deliver a significant public benefit in terms of renewable energy that outweighed concerns of increasing flood risk in the area. They underlined the urgent need to bring forward renewable energy schemes as quickly as possible to meet government targets.