From the Dorset Council Climate Change and Ecological Emergency Natural Assets Action Plan
“Natural Assets play a critical role in providing services that are vital for the physical wellbeing of Dorset’s population. As well as the natural regulation of hazards, such as flooding.“
“Dorset Council has a responsibility to protect the county’s Natural Assets, facilitating habitat gain and improving the quality and protection of Dorset’s species. We also need to increase sequestration, use the land to increase resilience to climate change, and ensure that future management and maintenance of these assets are financially sustainable.”
“After detailed evidence and information gathering exercises, led by the EAP and carried out by officer working groups, it has been recommended that the Council implement 24 actions relating to Dorset’s Natural Assets. Milestones have been identified for each action. This plan shows the immediate targets we will need to achieve by 2023 to keep us on track.”
One of the Natural Assets Plan’s 24 actions caught our eye, as it impacts on the proposed North Dairy Farm industrial solar plant development:
“Work in partnership with Lead Flood Authority and EA to develop Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUD’s) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) ensuring that drainage solutions are of high ecological value.”
North Dairy Farm Solar – Infiltration drainage may not be feasible!
From the outset, nearly two years ago, the North Dairy Farm Solar plant developer suggested that planting, and maintaining, perfect grass under the approximately 200,000 metal mounted solar array panels on the 190-acre farmland, surrounded by waterways, would avoid the need to provide Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) for the PV panelled areas. They also stated that sustainable drainage, and undertaking soil infiltration tests, would be unnecessary.
In September (2021), following the SHV representations about flooding and surface runoff from the proposed site, the Applicant proposed an infiltration-based SuDS, incorporating swales. This proposal has apparently been “approved?” However, the applicant appears to have ignored the clear warning in their own Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) at paragraph 4.33 that: “The reported hydrological characteristics of the Site suggest that infiltration may not be feasible”.
Given that the area and North Dairy Farm Site are prone to flash floods now, which pose a “threat to life”, we believe that it is an unnecessary and avoidable risk to allow the infiltration calculations and drainage design to follow a grant of approval.
The SHV group share the Council’s wish to see a Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUD’s) Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) that will ensure that drainage
solutions are of high ecological value, prevent increased surface runoff from North Dary Farm and reduce downstream flooding. Let’s hope the Supplementary Planning Document arrives before the Planning Application is considered!