Solar Park Proposal

Tuesday 1st February 2011

Environmental Impact Assessment advised for Solar park proposal near Bleadon The Mendip Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Unit having been consulted by North Somerset Council on a new solar park, near Bleadon has advised that a full Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should be undertaken. This view is backed by Natural England the government’s advisor on the natural environment. The solar park, if approved by the Council, will feature approximately 67 rows of photovoltaic panels mounted on frames covering around 25 ha of agricultural land at South Hill Farm, near Bleadon. Whilst the solar park would be just outside the AONB, its close proximity raises concerns over its possible impact on the special qualities of the designated landscape, particularly views from hillsides around Bleadon and impact on wildlife. The AONB’s Planning Liaison Officer said ‘Such views out of the AONB to surrounding countryside are an essential quality of the protected landscape. Solar parks are a relatively new innovation in the UK and the AONB Unit feels that their environmental impact needs to be fully assessed which, given the significant scale of the proposal near Bleadon, is why we have advised North Somerset Council that an EIA should be requested.’ The AONB Unit considers it is vital that Councils take into account the cumulative impact that energy developments in this part of Somerset could have in future on the character of the AONB. National Grid is planning a new overhead power line from Hinkley C Power Station with 47m high pylons and there are two wind farm proposals being prepared for sites on the Somerset Levels. Add in solar parks to the mix and the pastoral nature of the open countryside surrounding the AONB, which is such an enjoyable feature for so many people seeking relaxation and recreation in the AONB, could be lost. For further information contact Jonathan Richards AONB Planning Liaison Officer 01761 462338 Mon- Wed (morning only)

JRichards@somerset.gov.uk