'Harmful' solar farm will not be built

PUBLISHED: 09:00 10 August 2014

Bleadon resident Malcolm Richards' picture of the proposed site

Bleadon resident Malcolm Richards' picture of the proposed site

Archant

A 'DARK' and 'alien' solar farm will not be built in the North Somerset countryside, after a Government planning inspector deemed it too imposing on the vista.

Proposals to build a solar park containing about 32,000 panels in Bleadon fields were rejected by North Somerset Council in August last year.

A year on, an inspector appointed by the Local Government Secretary has upheld the decision.

Solar energy developer Energi Installations hoped to build the park on South Hill Farm off Bridgwater Road and Accommodation Road. But North Somerset Council received more than 70 letters of objection, saying the installation would tar the views from Brent Knoll, Brean Down, Uphill and Purn Hill.

Planning inspector Philip Major visited the site on July 1 and agreed the impact on the scenery near the proposed development would be too drastic.

In his dismissal of the appeal, he wrote: “I assess that the development proposed would introduce a significant and harmful change. The character of the area would therefore be adversely affected by the proposal.

“In its place would be serried ranks of dark and regular structures. These would be perceived as man-made and alien to the existing characteristics which define Bleadon Moor.

“The almost industrial nature of the development would be at odds with the otherwise rural character and would be harmful to it.”

The developers hoped to install 32,000 three-metre-high panels with security fencing and 10 mounted CCTV cameras, all with an operating life of 35 years.

The proposed fields are adjacent to the Mendip Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty boundary and the Uphill Conservation Area.

Case officer Neil Underhay, who refused the application, wrote: “The proposal by reason of its scale, form and proximity to public viewpoints and residential property, would result in dominant and uncharacteristic development causing unacceptable harm to the landscape character and appearance of the site and the wider landscape 
setting.”

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