Short presentation to Hazelbury Bryan Parish Council

4th May 2021

An awful lot has happened since Councillors visited the proposed 190-acre site back in 2020.

Energy generation is now much lower carbon which has helped the UK to almost eliminate the use of coal in 2020.

And the carbon cost of energy has been significantly reduced. Down from 535 gCO2/kWh in 2008 to 245 gCO2/kWh last year. And at 14:00 yesterday, carbon intensity was even lower at 138 grams CO2/ kWh .

Over the weekend, wind generated over 48% of the electricity in the UK, which was more than gas plants, nuclear and biomass combined. However, electricity from solar plants, only made up 2.3% of the electricity mix.

Last October, the Government announced massive investment in wind generation, and targeted 2030 for all homes in England to have their low carbon energy supplied by offshore wind.

As mentioned, the carbon cost of offshore wind energy is now significantly lower than for solar and, of course, solar is only available during daylight.

Wind energy produced at night can be stored, or used to re-generate energy, or to produce fuel, for example Hydrogen by electrolysis.

Some things have not changed since your site visit. I believe it is common ground between us that the catastrophe of global warming, and resultant harmful changes to our climate, is causing an ecological disaster which affects us all.  

That dramatically underlines the importance of choosing to generate the energy we need in the most efficient way, and at the lowest possible carbon cost.

The Green Party also puts offshore wind at the top of its list of low carbon energy production.

Dorset Council have already said that, quote “The development is likely to result in a marked change to a significant area of the Blackmore Vale landscape when viewed from high viewpoints in the AONB.”

The Council also warned the applicant that the proposed site is within an area that is very highly sensitive to solar development. 

But there is still more common ground between us and the developers. They have identified the significant harms the development would cause to the landscape and the Conservation Areas of Hazelbury Bryan and Mappowder and they offer mitigation planting as compensation for those harms.

Very significant among the harm caused would be the loss of amenity to users of the Public Footpath crossing the site – there can be no compensation for destroying that amenity.

The development would remove the peaceful enjoyment of the special and protected landscape enjoyed by residents and visitors.

It would turn the rural landscape into a 190-acre industrial site and take productive agricultural land out of full production.

Despite the developers claims, this site is excellent farming country.  Mappowder and Hazelbury are homes to some of the most successful organic dairy farmers in the country. They farm much of the land immediately adjacent to the site.

All of the biodiversity measures proposed could be implemented (with Government support) without shading the land with glass.

The Planning Inspector in the Fifehead Magdalen Appeal 2020 Decision noted: “The proposed development (21.4 hectares) cannot be successfully assimilated into the receiving valued landscape. It will be visually intrusive because of its industrial character and scale* and will be harmful to the setting of heritage assets and to the character of the wider landscape.” *The North Dairy site is nearly 360% bigger!

There is also common agreement that the development would be in full view from, and within the setting of the highly protected Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The applicants have demonstrated that 4 of the fields of panels will be clearly seen from Hazelbury Bryan (their image 8)

The proposed site is surrounded by land which is prone to flooding. We will present evidence to Dorset Council that runoff into flood zones 2 and 3 from the panels, and the, often saturated site, will increase “significantly” during intense rainfall events.

One of the Council’s key responsibilities, when deciding how to comment on a contentious development proposal, is to listen to the community, and you are to be commended for doing that tonight.

But, in a sense the community has already voted!  Section 3.2. of the Hazelbury Plan, it states that the “features particularly valued by the community include the: “narrow country roads and lanes and with open fields between them; the many rights of way and opportunities to enjoy the surrounding countryside, the general peace and quiet” and “the surrounding hills and views out across the rolling countryside of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex.”

The Plan’s stated aim is “to protect”, as far as possible, “the current environment in all its aspects.”

When the applicant conducted their community consultation, nearly 80% of the respondents said they are opposed to the development proposals.

To summarise

This high carbon -cost solar power station proposal comes at the wrong time, when Government policy is to go for carbon cheaper, more efficient offshore wind.

It would certainly be in the wrong place, and would unnecessarily “industrialise” a valued and sensitive landscape. It would harm the settings of the Dorset AONB, the setting of the Conservation Areas. It is inconsistent with the Hazelbury Bryan Neighbourhood Plan, and would increase flooding downstream.


….and then:

THE NORTH DAIRY FARM SOLAR DEVELOPMENT- PARISH COUNCILLORS THINK IT’S TOO BIG, BUT VOTE FOR IT! Though the proposed development is outside their parish, Hazelbury Bryan Parish Councillors were 4 in favour and 3 against. But those in favour have asked for the size of the solar power station to be reduced in area by 50% as they thought 190 acres is much too big! So everyone agrees that it is too big!!

Effectively the Parish Council has chosen a form of low carbon energy that has the lowest efficiency and highest carbon cost of all low carbon forms of clean energy generation! One view was that solar was needed to take care of overnight electric vehicle charging!

© 2022

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