Farm solar panels proposals at Owermoigne given green light

Plans for a solar farm in the Dorset countryside capable of producing enough power for 10,400 homes have been given the go ahead.

The 200-hectare development between Owermoigne and Winfrith was approved by Dorset Council's planning committee.

Developers said the 30 MW farm would lead to "extensive habitat enhancement and conservation" and would save 6,200 tonnes of carbon a year.

Critics said it would harm the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

New wetland areas alongside the Tadnoll Brook and Galton Heath would be created as part of the development, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

Payments of £10,400 a year over the 40-year working life of the site at Galton Manor Farm will be put aside for a Landscape Enhancement Fund, which the development company, Spring, said could lead to rare species such at the white stork returning to the area.

Ward councillor Nick Ireland said panels were "just ephemeral blips on the landscape".

"They're essential, temporary and they don't damage the land. Once they are taken away you wouldn't know they have been there… we need clean electricity and we need lots of it," he said.

The Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team had objected to the plans because of what it saw as the harm to the landscape.

Dorset Ramblers also warned of potential safety concerns for pedestrians using a footpath in the area.

Planning officers told the committee that the claims of wildlife improvement were backed by studies into the proposals.

Meanwhile plans for a solar farm and battery facility near Weymouth are going on show to the public.

The solar farm proposed by Statera would have capacity to generate up to 300 MW of renewable electricity, with 400 MW of battery storage capacity.

A public meeting is being held at Willowbed Hall, Chickerell, on Tuesday at 18:00 GMT, followed by a meeting at Portesham Village Hall on Wednesday.

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