Opinions divided by solar farm plans

PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 May 2014

View of Sandford Village

View of Sandford Village

Archant

THE prospect of a large scale solar farm being developed on the doorstep of a North Somerset village is dividing opinion.

A German company announced its plans to develop 40 acres of land at Towerhouse in Banwell last week.

The site lies close to the parish boundary of Winscombe and Sandford on land north of Towerhead Road.

New Energy, the company behind the scheme, sent representatives to outline its plans to a Winscombe Parish Council meeting on Monday.

Project manager Jimmy Offley and the head of project development, Axel Puttkammer, answered questions from parish councillors and residents.

Mr Offley said: “It is not in your parish, but it is right on your border and certainly can be seen by your residents.

“I am here to try to engage the community with the project before we put in our full planning application.

“Our pre-planning application has been entered and we are sorry we didn’t tell you sooner. We didn’t realise the bordering properties were part of Sandford.

“Unfortunately the traffic will come through the A38, as there’s major congestion issues in Banwell and the last thing we would want to do is make that worse.”

Banwell residents were told the construction traffic would not go through the residential roads but would instead pass through Sandford.

Mr Puttkammer suggested the congestion traffic would last up to five weeks and would be up to five lorries a day.

Some residents and parish councillors were keen on the green energy plans, while others spoke vehemently against them.

Cllr Steve Bridges said: “I hate these things, they are a blot on the landscape and so are wind farms. You haven’t got my vote.”

The engineers hope the farm will create enough energy to supply 2,300 homes in the villages. After 25 years the land will be returned back to its original state and the development will be decommissioned.

If all goes according to plan, the company hopes to begin construction in August meaning the site could be operational by the end of the year.

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