Posted by: dorsetcpre | December 4, 2014

Increasing amount of Dorset is disappearing under solar panels and wind turbines

An increasing amount of Dorset is disappearing under solar panels and wind turbines – members of the Dorset Campaign to Protect Rural England have been told. Regional committee representative Richard Nicholls said that around 2,000 acres were now allocated to solar panel schemes or windfarms – with many more applications being proposed.

Dorset CPRE 2014 AGM Richard Nicholls speaking 6 hands up

Dorset CPRE 2014 AGM Richard Nicholls speaking 6 hands up

He warned that what was happening was the ‘industrialisation’ of the countryside, helped by subsidy from taxpayers.

The organisation has gone head-to-head with the local councils over some of the sites with its own report, based on official figures, which shows Dorset has almost reached its target for renewable energy production. CPRE claim that existing and agreed applications mean the county is already at 97% of the Government figure with some districts or boroughs exceeding the target.
But guest speaker at the CPRE annual meeting, Dorset County environment and economy director Mike Harries, told CPRE members that his department’s own estimate was between 35 and 55 per cent, depending on how the calculation was approached.

Mike Harries, Director for Environment and the Economy at Dorset County Council gives talk on "Environment and the Economy - Finding the balance" at Dorset CPRE AGM 2014

Mike Harries, Director for Environment and the Economy at Dorset County Council gives talk on “Environment and the Economy – Finding the balance” at Dorset CPRE AGM 2014

He said that more than 80 per cent of Dorset was protected by one or more designation, such as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Site of Special Scientific Interest, which made development in those areas unlikely.
In his speech Mr Nicholls said: “We are not against wind turbines, and there may be cases where farmers need them, but if they are large turbines in inappropriate areas they are likely to be unacceptable.

“We should also remember that we need land for food and that this country, for many years, has been a net importer of many of our vital foods.”

Mr Nicholls said there was concern in CPRE, and in other organisations, about what many view as the industrialisation of the countryside: “If we build on too much agricultural land it will be at the cost of our landscape and food production.”

 

Dorset CPRE 2014 AGM Richard Heaslip invites questions

Dorset CPRE 2014 AGM Richard Heaslip invites questions

CPRE Chair of Trustees Richard Heaslip spoke of the support given to various local groups during the year – including opposition to windfarms at Dorchester and in the Tolpuddle area and to a large solar panel installation on the Drax family estate at Mapperton.

But he said there had also been positive projects – with work on proposals to include much of Dorset and parts of East Devon in a new National Park and collaboration on research with Bournemouth University. CPRE had also sponsored the competition for best village shop in the Dorset Community Action ‘best village’ awards.

Richard Heaslip said there was still a need for volunteers to help with local groups and tasks such as monitoring planning applications.

 

He said the organisation would continue to fight for what he described as “our magical landscape,” but said that with a continuing flood of planning applications it would be “a perpetual compromise.”

He suggested that members and local people get to know who their councillors are and give them “an interesting and busy time” on issues which threaten the landscape.

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