Posted by: dorsetcpre | January 23, 2017

Urgent Request Regarding Mapperton Farm Solar Park Planning Application reply by 4th January

MAPPERTON FARM SOLAR PARK PLANNING APPLICATION 3/13/0681/FUL
An urgent request from Richard Nicholls, Chair of Trustees, Dorset CPRE

Dorset CPRE have submitted an objection to the latest Mapperton Farm Solar Park planning application 3/13/0681/FUL.

Some of you may have been surprised to receive a letter recently from East Dorset District Council regarding your 2015 letter/email opposing the Mapperton Solar Park, and asking if you would like to make any new comments in the light of their decision to hold another planning hearing despite losing two Judicial Reviews on this development. We would like to suggest you do make a new comment as there have been important developments since 2015. Even if you didn’t object and comment last time, please do so this time as all responses are helpful in influencing the outcome. The deadline for writing  has been extended to 7th January 2017 (confirmed 20th December).

We wrote to our members in 2013 and 2015 and asked for their support to defeat Good Energy’s proposal for the Mapperton Farm solar park, on land owned by South Dorset MP Richard Drax. This year Katharine Butler on behalf of the Mapperton Preservation Group won another successful Judicial Review. The judge agreed that East Dorset’s Planning Committee was significantly misled by the Officers’ Report which recommended permission be granted. The Report admitted that the proposal would do harm to heritage assets but failed to point out that, if this was the case, this would not comply with policies in the Local Plan and that the Officers should have recommended refusal.

Despite this, the proposal has been resubmitted and, if built, would be at 24.2MW, the second largest in Dorset. It is in unspoilt countryside, just south of Blandford. The size remains the same at 106 acres, equivalent to 67 soccer pitches. Last time the response was over 700 objections, a record for a solar installation in Dorset. Dorset CPRE is in favour of renewable energy – provided it is not unacceptably damaging to the landscape, to heritage assets or to the amenity of local people. However we believe that this application is hugely damaging.

Your further objection is essential – without it we will not succeed in stopping this harmful proposal.

Reasons for Objection

The scheme has met with strong opposition from the local community over concerns for its size, landscape, visual impact, social amenity, and use of “best and most versatile” agricultural land.

View from Grade II* Listed Charborough Park towards proposed Mapperton Solar Farm

View from Grade II* Listed Charborough Park towards proposed Mapperton Solar Farm

We think it will be hard for East Dorset District Council now to say that the installation does no harm to heritage assets, while changes to the Local Plan take years to make. We are looking to strengthen the evidence that harm will be caused to the setting of the Conservation Area of Mapperton and Spetisbury Rings, as well as the views from and into Grade II* listed Charborough Park and Tower, and their setting.

There are two more important changes since 2015:

1) Significant progress has been made towards Dorset’s Renewable Energy Targets for 2020, thanks to the approval of 46 solar farms. CPRE estimates that East Dorset has now reached 100% of its target as of this September, with the County as a whole now at 130%, taking into account installations that are either operational, under or awaiting construction. Even Greater Dorset, including Bournemouth and Poole, has reached 98%.

2) In the UK overall it is projected that by 2020 maximum National Grid capacity for Solar installed capacity of 12GW will have been reached without approving more solar parks, and there is serious risk of overwhelming it.

There is thus little need for this awful blot on the precious landscape of East Dorset either locally or nationally.

TWO POINTS TO MAKE NOW :

  1. Concern regarding harm to local heritage assets.
  2. Little need for this park given the recent progress towards Dorset’s Renewable Energy Targets for 2020.

PLEASE SEND extra comments of OBJECTION to the Planning Application, in support of the local residents and our landscape – either by email or by post.

EMAIL: You can email planningadmin@christchurchandeastdorset.gov.uk.  Please quote the application number, and provide name and address including a postcode. Write your comments and confirm your Objection.

ROYAL MAIL: The letter can be handwritten or typed.  All you need do is PRINT your name and address at the top of your letter – don’t forget the postcodequote the application number, write your comments including confirmation of your OBJECTION to the development, and DATE and SIGN AT THE BOTTOM. Post it to: Development Management, EDDC, Civic Offices, Bridge St, Christchurch BH23 1AZ

If you still have the East Dorset letter, write PTO on the front, turn it over and write in your comments, nor forgetting to say you are objecting to the development, then sign, date and return it to the address on letter.

The deadline for writing  has been extended to 4th January 2017.

Thank you in advance for supporting again this campaign.

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