Dorset

Higher Stockbridge Farm solar park 'would be blot on landscape'

Poster objecting to solar park
Image caption The deadline for comments on the planning application for the park in Longburton is 10 March

A planned 80-hectare solar farm in Dorset would be a "blot on the landscape" and "destroy" wildlife, campaigners claim.

Power producer Voltalia has proposed the scheme for Higher Stockbridge Farm in Longburton, near Sherborne.

The majority of those who commented on the application object to the 35 megawatt farm, including the CPRE.

Voltalia said it was smaller than other solar parks in the county and would actually help to "enhance" wildlife.

More than 150 of about 160 comments received oppose the farm, which would be expected to run for at least 35 years.

Image copyright Google
Image caption The planned solar farm would cover 80 hectares (197 acres) of open countryside

Objector Cristina Moyes described it as "ecological vandalism".

"Vital wildlife habitat of ecological value would be destroyed," she said.

Species protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, including dormice and bats, have been found at the site.

Philip Legge, another objector, said it was a "disproportionate scheme" that would create "a horrendous blot on a beautiful, rare and unique landscape".

CPRE Sherborne and District Society said it would cause "unacceptable harm to the landscape".

However, supporters have described it as a "necessary scheme".

David Henshaw said: "Solar farms are a very legitimate part of the landscape at this critical time."

Image copyright Voltalia
Image caption It would run for at least 35-years and power more than 10,500 homes each year, Voltalia said

Voltalia said the park would generate enough renewable energy to power more than 10,500 homes each year and create jobs in the area.

Sheep would graze under the solar panels during the summer and a number of measures would be put in place to protect wildlife, including the installation of boxes for bats and dormice, the firm said.

"The proposed solar farm is an example of a development which presents considerable opportunity to enhance the local wildlife and contribute towards regional and national biodiversity targets," it said.

The deadline for comments on the planning application, which was submitted in December, is 10 March.

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