Solar farm scheme dismissed by planners

PUBLISHED: 10:00 24 December 2015

Archant

A SOLAR farm development has been refused by planners due to concerns it would have an adverse impact on the landscape.

The solar panel scheme has been refused.The solar panel scheme has been refused.

Townsend Farm Limited wanted to build the 140,000sqm site at Townsend Farm in Axbridge.

The developer said it could generate enough power for 1,020 homes every year.

But Axbridge Town Council objected to the scheme because of its visual impact on the landscape and fears over the effect on wildlife.

Sedgemoor District Council planning officer Jeremy Ebdon made the decision to refuse planning permission on Thursday.

He said: “The proposed development would have a significant adverse impact on the character and appearance of the site and local landscape character and on views into and out of the Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), which could not be mitigated.”

The developer said ‘buffer planting’ would mitigate the effect on the landscape, and said it would provide a financial boost for the district in the form of business rates.

But Cheddar Parish Council and Compton Bishop Parish Council both also objected to the scheme, with Compton Bishop’s councillors describing the panels as ‘obtrusive’.

The plans also received 89 comments on Sedgemoor’s planning website.

David Parkin, of Moor Green in Axbridge, said: “I do not believe that a solar installation of this size represents a serious intrusion, compared with existing agricultural buildings on the landscape close to an AONB.

“All areas should now be making a firm effort to reduce carbon-based energy demands.”

Barbara Weller, of Hillside in Axbridge, objected to the scheme.

She said: “Tourists such as walkers and cyclists come to visit Somerset to see our views such as the Mendips, Cheddar Gorge, Brent Knoll and Crook Peak.

“They have not come to see an industrial solar farm.”

If the developer wants to appeal, it must do so by January 14.

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