Broad Oak solar farm near Sturmisnter Newton given the go-ahead after appeal
RESIDENTS of Broad Oak near Sturminster Newton have lost their battle against a proposal for a solar farm generating renewable energy on their doorsteps at Rudge Hill Farm, Rivers Corner.
An informal hearing conducted last month by planning inspector John Woolcock has resulted in the appeal by Penny Laurenson of Lightsource Renewable Limited against refusal of planning permission being allowed.
Mr Woolcock found that although the 2.8 hectares of solar panels would have a moderate/major impact on nearby public footpaths, it would diminish with increasing distance, and existing and proposed vegetation would screen or soften the impact close to the appeal site.
He also found that because of the local topography the proposed solar farm would not have an overbearing or dominating effect on views from the buildings or curtilage at the listed Wool House Farm, or Sycamore Farm to the north, and the solar panels would occupy only a small proportion of the wider landscape forming the backdrop to 80 houses at Broad Oak.
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He said the less than substantial harm had to be weighed against the public benefits of the proposal.
That proposal, generating enough energy to power 245 typical UK homes, would make a significant contribution to meeting national targets for renewable energy and would assist in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a consideration which weighed heavily in its favour.
He proposed conditions to satisfy concerns about access, safeguarding wildlife, and a number of other issues raised by objectors.
Objector Terry Townsend said: "This blot on the landscape is to remain for 25 years which is effectively a life sentence for most of the local residents. Other successful solar installations around Dorset prove that it is possible to find discreet locations."
Another objector, Anna Lewington, said: "This ruling, when so many local people and councillors had legitimate objections, makes a mockery of the government's declaration that local people should be able to make decisions that will affect their own localities. We fear for the future of the British countryside."