From Mappowder’s Parish Chairman, David Horrell
(This month we broke the rules, and have two stories on the same subject – the CPRE choose their own column, and we exist to give a voice to local communities on important issues, so I gave this space to David too – Ed)
British Solar Renewables (BSR) have applied to Dorset Council for planning permission to cover 190 acres of productive farmland with solar panels at North Dairy Farm, near the villages of Mappowder, Hazelbury Bryan and Pulham in the beautiful and historic Blackmore Vale, North Dorset.
It would cover an area eight times bigger than the Conservation Area of Hazelbury Bryan – over one mile long and ¾ of a mile wide.
Save Hardy’s Vale (SHV) is a community group opposing the plan. Co-ordinating the widespread cross-party opposition to the application is Mappowder’s Parish Chairman, David Horrell.
David says, “many in the community are making it very clear how much they value our highly protected countryside and historic landscape. The Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which overlooks the proposed site, is given the highest levels of protection in Dorset Council’s plans”.
The numerous uninterrupted panoramic views from public roads, footpaths and bridleways which run through the site and along the escarpments above the Vale would suffer significant visual harm.
The industrial-sized electricity generation plant would include 9.5 kilometres of perimeter internal security fence, about 120, 6-metre-high camera posts, 33 inverter containers, and an electricity substation.
Protesters believe it would cause significant visual harm to the setting of the nationally protected AONB, the Conservation Areas of Mappowder and Hazelbury Bryan and many listed buildings.
The site is surrounded by the catchment area and flood zones of the River Lydden and Wonston Brook, where flash floods and surface flooding often close the roads without warning.
David said “the SHV community, like Dorset Council, fully supports the vital switch to green, low carbon energy. We are very pleased that the Prime Minister announced that off-shore wind turbines will provide the green energy needs of all homes in the country by 2030. We do not need to desecrate Hardy’s Vale to combat climate change when we will get all the green energy we need.”
Energy schemes approved by organisations such as the Green Party and the CPRE include photovoltaic panels on roofs and brownfield sites, saving on transmission costs by being near main roads and close to where the generated energy is needed.
“We shouldn’t be covering productive farmland or harming highly valued Conservation Areas and protected landscapes” says David “especially in the astonishingly beautiful countryside of North Dorset, which a report commissioned by Dorset Council called: ‘Dorset’s greatest economic asset’.