Clean energy solutions company Enviromena is launching an appeal against Dorset Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for a major solar farm north east of Dorchester.
In the face of a changing global climate and the biggest surge in UK household energy bills for more than 50 years, Dorset Planning Committee voted 8-3 against the scheme for a 40-acre 11.8 MW solar installation at Cruxton Farm near Maiden Newton. When finished, the installation would have been capable of providing clean power to 4,800 homes every year, offsetting over 3,000 tonnes of carbon annually.
Councillors upheld their planning officer’s recommendation for refusal on the grounds that the site did not meet criteria for development in an area of outstanding natural beauty and that its visual impact would prove detrimental to the landscape.
Mark Harding is the European Development Director of Enviromena, which is delivering transformative clean energy solutions across the UK, Europe, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
He attended the planning meeting and said afterwards: “We are bitterly disappointed with the decision. We’ve worked very hard over the past 17 months that the project has been in the planning process to address all concerns raised by consultees and interested parties.”
“As a result, we shaped a scheme that has the full backing of the local parish council and kept visual impact to a minimum. At the meeting we sided with members of the committee who supported the scheme and highlighted the fact that the significant benefits of the project outweighed any perceived harmful visual impact from selected viewpoints.”
“We fully believe that our submission met all of the criteria for development in the AONB. We will now proceed with an appeal to ensure an outcome which not only recognises the need to satisfy local conditions but supports the urgent national agenda of delivering sustainable, renewable energy.”
Enviromena’s CEO Cabell Fisher commented: “We understand that there might be concerns with build projects as they can be disruptive to an area for a short period. So with that in mind, Enviromena proposed extensive measures to ensure the site would be acceptable to all stakeholders even down to the very people who might walk the trail next to the project site. In fact, the local community recognised that projects like Enviromena’ s can be connected quickly with minimal disruption and that they play a crucial role in providing much-needed clean energy alternatives to the grid. This is exactly why the project had the full backing of the Parish Council.”
“Despite being presented with the facts that the site would provide significant progress towards supporting UK energy independence, help to reduce the cost of energy for UK residents over the long term, and help to offset substantial amounts of carbon in the atmosphere at a time when fuel prices are pushing more people into poverty and temperatures appear to be rising globally, the view was taken that the site’s visual impact would prove detrimental to the landscape.”
He added: “We also feel strongly that the site would support the local economy and provide jobs during the construction phase. But, despite putting all of this to the planning officer, the Cruxton Farm site has still been refused planning leaving us no option but to appeal the decision.”