One of the UK’s largest solar farms is to be built between Nynehead and Milverton despite objections from local residents, both parish councils and the Council for the protection of Rural England.
Planners gave permission for the installation of 19,500 photo-voltaic panels on a 30-acre field at Grange Farm, belonging to the Cullompton-based Persey family.
Both councils based their objections on the impact of hundreds of construction lorries using very narrow lanes to reach the remote site. Milverton also felt the project could cause huge delays on the nearby B3187.
“CPRE Somerset is not opposed to PV farms in the countryside in principle,” said a county spokesman. “But they need to be carefully sited, which very few are. This application is unacceptable as it is taking up some of the best agricultural land, potentially increasing flood risk and is not well screened from view, especially from the Grade 2-listed park and garden at Nynehead Court and from an attractive public footpath that adjoins the site perimeter.”
Speaking in favour of the project, Tristan Fisher of specialist developer Lumicity, said that the solar farm would generate enough power for 1500 local homes and had been chosen largely for its proximity to the National Grid.
“For older farmers it’s better than a pension, for younger farmers it can provide a secure future revenue stream,” said Fisher.
The average size of UK solar farms is increasing quickly. Only 18 months ago the biggest in the country was only 3,000 panels, a fraction the size of Grange Farm. Yet a monster unit has just been approved for a Lincolnshire airfield with 120,000 panels.
In terms of the West Country, Grange Farm will be the largest and most powerful solar power installation yet built.