17th June 2014
Alder King secures solar farm planning consent in North Dorset AONB
Alder King Planning Consultants have secured planning consent from North Dorset District Council for a 9MW solar farm at Canada Farm, near Blandford Forum in the North Dorset AONB. It is believed to be one of the first solar park developments to be permitted in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Acting on behalf of British Solar Renewables, Alder King submitted the application to the planning committee with no neighbour objections and Local Parish Council support, following a programme of careful public consultation and community fund initiatives.
“Community support is a decisive factor in securing consent, particularly in an AONB, says Mark Cullen of Alder King’s planning team. “The policy and political climate has strengthened against renewable energy development and greater emphasis is now placed on the views of local communities.
“We are advising more frequently on the appropriate form and content of pre-application community engagement, the scope and materiality of community fund initiatives and the political management aspects of negotiation.
“Of critical importance is the planning and renewable policy framework and the presentation of the “planning balance” to the community, planning officers, planning committees and where necessary the Planning Inspector.”
Canada Farm is a mixed livestock and arable farm at Winterbourne Stickland. The solar farm will be constructed in one field of just over 14 hectares and has been designed to allow for sheep grazing and minimal visual impact. Panel arrays will have a maximum height of 2.4m and will be well-screened by the existing natural hedgerows and trees, and further enhanced with a planting and landscaping scheme.
The scheme will have a capacity of approximately 9MW, enough to produce clean electricity to power 2,700 homes, more than half of Blandford Parish.
Through its association with a number of key solar operators, Alder King’s Planning team has developed a particular expertise in securing planning permission for large scale, ground-mounted solar farms.
In 2013/14, it secured permission for approximately 87.9MW on sites in rural areas including Wincanton and Ashcott in Somerset, Crossways in Dorchester and Raglington in Winchester. This is sufficient energy to power approximately 27,000 homes and save 38,000 tonnes of carbon.