Plans for Stratera’s £300m solar farm in Chickerell have been withdrawn

Plans for Stratera’s £300m solar farm in Chickerell have been withdrawn

Solar farm Chickerell

Controversial plans to build a 1,400-acre solar farm in Chickerell have been withdrawn by the applicant.
Energy firm Stratera said it is abandoning £300million plans to install solar panels on land between Friar Waddon and Buckland Ripers following a public backlash.
A spokesperson for the energy firm said after “extensive engagement with the local community, we have listened and have decided to drop the promotion of a large-scale solar project at this location”.
But the firm added it still plans to apply for permission to build an energy storage plant close to the Chickerell substation.
Despite being described by Stratera as ‘relatively small’ in national terms, the solar farm would have taken up the same area as 950 football pitches and been next to a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
West Dorset MP Chris Loder had decried the plan as “an appalling use of greenbelt farmland”.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in Dorset described the plan as a “huge solar monstrosity”.
Despite the developer claiming the site will help the county meet national energy production targets, nearby homeowners also expressed concerns over the scheme.
Chickerell resident Helen Hazell told The West Dorset Magazine: “This is taking away much needed agricultural land used for food production and farming – a topic currently close to all our hearts. “Appalling damage will be done to the countryside by the panels, one third of which is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.”
She added: “The loss of hedgerows and arable farmland will have a detrimental effect on wildlife. Currently this provides a habitat for many different species. The proposals to replace these with small planted areas surely is not enough to make up for the loss of the current natural habitat.”
Nottington resident John Paton feared the development would disturb ‘centuries old’ badger setts at the Friar Waddon site.
Mr Paton said: “Badger setts can be found continuously along the line of the green sand outcrop at the site and are identified by their characteristic spoil mounds outside their setts.
“There is one such sett at Friar Waddon, and doubtless others within the proposed development area, which is over 70 metres long and has a huge number of entrance holes.
“It must be many centuries old and maybe thousands of years old and will lie just a few metres outside the development boundary, but changes to land use and the strong security fencing used around solar arrays will deny the badgers the food they have enjoyed from time immemorial.”

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