RIGHT TIME – WRONG PLACE!
Where not to put industrial solar developments!
Well! Not in “Good quality natural landscapes, which have a high ecological value”
Who says so?
Dorset Council says so – in their Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy and in their planning policies.
We believe that everyone involved in considering the proposed North Dairy Farm solar development must recognise the urgent need for renewable energy as a means of helping to address the very serious ongoing consequences of climate change. But industrial solar developments must be sited in the right places.
Dorset Council were among the leading authorities when, in July 2020, they developed a draft Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy and an initial road map which sets the direction and urgency of travel. The Council also recognised that: “critically, much of what is required will need to be led by the national government through clear policy and support programmes”. The Prime Minister recently made clear that: “On my watch, we will not lose swathes of our best farmland to solar farms”.
WELLBEING The Council has identified that: “health and wellbeing benefits are some of the largest potential gains from tackling the climate and ecological emergency”.
They note: “Good quality natural landscapes, which have a high ecological value, have also been shown to reduce stress and sadness, lift poor mood, and make us feel better, with the relationship being strongest for anxiety disorder and depression” and there is undoubtedly a positive relationship between improving biodiversity, quality of greenspace, and accessibility for health and wellbeing. They note that health benefits of green spaces have been known across the world for time immemorial”.
The Council also noted that: “In addition, we can work towards significantly improving our health and wellbeing as a result of more active travel, better diets, cleaner air, a greater connection with the natural world”.
Natural England has said about the North Dairy Farm solar development: “We accept that the proposals in themselves will, in principle, provide an environmental benefit. However, this benefit needs to be measured against any adverse impact on the natural environment in which the scheme is located”.
“We recognise that paragraphs 176 and 177 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2021 give the highest status of protection for the ‘landscape and scenic beauty of AONBs and their settings”.
“Proposals that are harmful to the character and appearance of the area will not be permitted unless there are benefits that clearly outweigh the significant protection afforded to the conservation and enhancement of the AONB”.
“It should be noted here that the availability of a connection to the grid, or grid capacity, does not in itself justify harm to the natural beauty of the AONB.”
So, the Council (and Natural England) are clear that industrial solar should not be developed within “Good quality natural landscapes, which have a high ecological value” – such as Hardy’s Vale.