Posted by: dorsetcpre | March 5, 2015

New Mapperton Solar Farm Proposal facing strong opposition

JOINT PRESS RELEASE FROM DORSET CPRE AND KATHARINE BUTLER Last week local residents expressed strongly their opposition to the new solar farm proposed for Mapperton, at a presentation given by the developer, Good Energy, to the Lower Winterborne Parish Council in a packed village hall. This is on land owned by South Dorset MP Richard Drax. The revised proposal comes after Good Energy were forced to withdraw an earlier application in the face of a legal challenge mounted by Katharine Butler, daughter of the distinguished diplomat, Sir Michael Butler, who lived at Mapperton until his death a year ago. Good Energy now intends to cover 106 acres with 90,000 solar PV panels, a space equivalent to over 66 soccer pitches. It would be one of the biggest solar farms in the country and represents damaging industrialisation of the beautiful landscape here.

Protestors - New Mapperton Solar Farm Proposal facing strong opposition

Protestors – New Mapperton Solar Farm Proposal facing strong opposition

Residents are objecting to the solar farm as it is located in an Area of Great Landscape Value, which is a protected landscape, as well as on grounds of visual intrusion and adverse    impact to amenity and heritage assets. They are also concerned about the use of good arable land. Dr David Pope, a resident of Winterborne Zelston, which is only 700 metres away from the site, commented: “This is a development driven by commercial gain rather than community benefit”. Katharine Butler said: “Good Energy’s representative was unable to explain convincingly why this solar farm needs over twice the average acreage of their other Dorset ones”. The Dorset branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England is supporting local residents. It is in principle supportive of renewable energy and is not opposing the majority of solar farm applications, but this scheme is in unspoilt countryside, on good arable agricultural land and protected by national and local planning policies. It also argues strongly that Dorset has made huge strides towards meeting a 7.5% Renewable Energy Target, thanks to the approval of 37 solar farms. This does not allow for any current renewable planning applications being successful, which is very unlikely. It can thus be more selective in choosing any further sites. David Peacock for Dorset CPRE stressed that “there is a need now for greater use to be made of solar PV on commercial and industrial roofs, which remain massively underutilised”.

Sue Scrivens and Placard

Sue Scrivens and Placard – New Mapperton Solar Farm Proposal facing strong opposition

A new planning application by Good Energy is expected this month and objectors are already getting prepared for the next stage in the campaign to stop the solar farm blighting the Dorset countryside. Sir Michael Butler was buried at the top of the hill overlooking Mapperton and the proposed site. No doubt his campaigning spirit will spur on the opposition who intend to gather more than the 500 objections raised last time, and stop this harmful development.

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Responses

  1. As a civil engineering student, I know for a fact that every area of the UK needs to take some measures to switch over to sustainable energy sources. These solar panels are silent, un-noticeable except for giraffes and light-aircraft pilots, and hardly ‘industrialisation’.
    I think it’s the least you could do to help my generation meet its needs; you’ve burnt all the fossil fuels and left us with the climate change; but at least stop trying to prevent people who are switched on to serious issues from have a positive effect on the wider environment!

  2. Hi Tim,

    Thank you for contributing to the renewable energy discussion. David Peacock recently participated in a radio interview on this issue with students at Blandford School and is being interviewed this week on the same topic by a student at Bournemouth University who is interested in Dorset CPRE’s views.

    We are fully supportive of renewable energy – provided it is not unacceptably damaging to landscape, heritage assets and the amenity of local people. We assess each application on a case by case basis. We have opposed just three of the 45 solar parks proposed for the County. We actively promote solar parks with an installed capacity under 5 megawatts.

    No solar park should be built on the nation’s best and most versatile agricultural land, Grades 1, 2 and 3a. Other sites are available in Dorset with poorer soil. This is not just our view, it is also the Government’s.

    We also stress, as does the Government, that there is a need for greater use to be made of solar PV on commercial and industrial roofs, which remain massively underutilised across the UK.

    Government databases currently indicate that renewable energy generation from installations in the County that are either operational, under construction or awaiting construction total an annual 585.7 gigawatt hours. This represents impressive progress of 85% towards a 7.5 % renewable energy target for 2020, proposed by the Dorset Energy Partnership. It is clear that we don’t need to throw the baby out with the bath water to get where we need to be.


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