Dorset Solar Farm Consultation Announced

British Solar Renewables, the UK’s largest developer, owner and operator of solar farms has recently commenced community consultation for a proposed solar installation at Canada Farm, Winterborne Stickland.

The proposed solar farm would be constructed in one field of just over 14 hectares. With a capacity of approximately 8.7 megawatts, it could produce enough clean electricity to power 2,700 homes – more than half of Blandford Parish. The site was specifically chosen because, in addition to offering high sunlight levels and a good electrical grid connection, the visual impact of the solar farm would be limited. The proposed panel arrays would have a maximum height of 2.4m and would be well-screened by the existing natural hedgerows and trees, and these would be further enhanced with a planting and landscaping scheme.

One neighbouring property would experience some visual impact from the solar farm and, following detailed consultation with the residents, the layout design has been revised to reduce this impact and to provide some sympathetic visual screening.

Canada Farm is a mixed livestock and arable farm and the proposed solar project has been designed to allow for sheep grazing between the panel rows. The rental income will support the owners’ core farming business by mitigating market price fluctuations. While this is all great news for the farmer, it is worth remembering that British agriculture plays an important role in provision of fresh, local produce for our consumption, and farmers and their employees are responsible for maintaining 75% of the UK’s surface area. The British farming industry has seen massive decline in recent years as farmers have struggled to survive price squeezes and regulatory changes and so, ultimately, the community at large also benefits from anything that helps to provide longevity in their farming business.

British Solar Renewables has a rich agricultural heritage and aims to balance clean energy generation with sensitivity for both land and ecology, whilst also supporting British farming and the UK economy.  The company has a strong track record, with operational solar farms across the UK which provide local jobs and a regular diversified income to the farmer landowner. A local sourcing policy has meant that 65% of the company’s current total spend remains in the UK.  Bridport company, Corbin Industries, was awarded the contract for manufacture of all the steelwork and framing systems for British Solar Renewables projects and it now exports these; this has delivered  a direct employment benefit for Dorset. In addition, local labour is also used for the construction, maintenance and security of all solar farms.

Following community consultation British Solar Renewables aims to submit the planning application to North Dorset District Council in late May.

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