Posted by: dorsetcpre | April 25, 2014

Mapperton Solar Farm Developer concedes defeat in legal battle

Joint press release from Katharine Butler and Dorset CPRE 24th April 2014

Mapperton Solar Farm Developer concedes defeat in legal battle

Good Energy have conceded defeat in the legal battle to quash East Dorset District Council’s approval last November  of the 175 acre Mapperton solar farm, on land owned by South Dorset MP, Richard Drax. A strong campaign had been mounted to stop the solar farm by local residents, supported by the Dorset branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), with over 500 objections being sent to the Council to protest at what could become one of the largest greenfield solar farms in the UK,  saying it will ruin the landscape and lead to the industrialisation of the countryside.

Katharine Butler initiated legal proceedings against East Dorset District Council on grounds of procedural error, following a hotly debated planning committee meeting and approval only being granted narrowly after the Chairman’s casting vote. She is the daughter of Sir Michael Butler GCMG, the distinguished diplomat, who lived at Mapperton until his death last December – and who is now buried in a field overlooking the planned site. The Council admitted their assessment of the need for an Environmental  Impact Assessment had been inadequate and that arrangements for a site visit by the planning committee did not follow correct procedure, but Good Energy as an “Interested Party” were contesting this until recently.

The 175 acre 28 MW solar farm proposed at Mapperton Farm DT11 9ER, would be huge and equivalent to 110 soccer pitches.  Dorset CPRE is in principle supportive of renewable energy and is not opposing the majority of solar farm applications, but this scheme was in unspoilt countryside, on good arable agricultural land and protected by national and local planning policies. It was visually intrusive and would cause unacceptable damage to heritage assets nearby. Its scale was also totally out of keeping with the landscape. CPRE also argue strongly the need for greater use to be made of solar PV on commercial and industrial roofspace, which is still underutilised in Dorset.

David Peacock for Dorset CPRE said “The damaging Mapperton proposal represents gross overkill in terms of East Dorset’s requirement for renewable energy generation from PV installations.  It’s 2020  target is 9.1 gigawatt hours. Roof installations already generate 3.6 gigawatt hours and soon to this will be added 25.8 gigawatt hours from three already approved or soon to be approved solar parks.”

A new planning application by Good Energy is quite possible and objectors are already getting prepared for the next stage in the campaign to stop this solar farm blighting the Dorset countryside. Katharine Butler said: “In spite of government encouragement, there is no local council policy on the location of renewable projects and, while their production costs fall faster than the subsidies, we will continue to see this feeding frenzy by developers and landowners cashing in on the windfall. I am determined to take up my father’s mantle and prevent the destruction of beautiful countryside in a misguided solution to our energy needs. ”



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