Slaughtergate Farm in Gillingham has recently become one of the latest farms in North Dorset to rent out a small percentage of its land to UK solar power generator, Lightsource Renewable Energy.
The land will now accommodate a solar farm generating 1.8 MW of green energy – the equivalent power for around 537 households and annual CO2 savings of 916,119 kg.
Lightsource reports that about 75 residents attended to hear about the proposal in July 2012 where concerns were expressed around visibility and the use of the community’s rugby pitches to accommodate the solar farm.
After confirming that the club grounds would not be affected in any way, Lightsource says its planning application proceeded to run smoothly, with unanimous support from North Dorset District Council. No objections were raised by Gillingham Town Council, Silton Parish Council, the Environment Agency, the county council’s archaeological officer, or English Heritage.
Conor McGuigan, business development director for Lightsource, said: “When we develop a new solar farm, we are entering into an agreement with the landowner and council for a period of 25 years, therefore it is imperative that we address any concerns such as those voiced at the community consultation at Gillingham. Such forums allow constructive debate to take place, and give us the opportunity to allay people’s fears in the majority of cases. It is after all in our own best interests to work with the council and address local concerns collectively in order to gain the planning permission we seek and build strong relationships with the local residents that are going to be our long-term neighbours.”
In accordance with the plans it submitted, Lightsource will now be planting an entire new hedgerow along the eastern boundary of the solar farm to ensure it will not be visible from the neighbouring rugby club and the scheduled ancient monument – Slaughter Barrow- which lies about 415m to the east of the site.
Bird and bat boxes will be installed and gaps will be left under the deer fencing that will surround the infrastructure of the solar farm so that small mammals such as badgers can continue to come and go as they please. Weather permitting, it is hoped that construction will take approximately 8 weeks to complete from now.
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