Sedgmoor District Council has given planning permission to a 27-hectare solar farm near Highbridge in Somerset.

The project, put forward by renewable developer Hadstone Energy Limited, will see a 10.2MW solar farm built on the land which was previously used for agricultural purposes.

The development of solar farms on agricultural land has become a contentious issue recently after a number of MPs raised concerns about the ‘industrialisation of the countryside’ which led the government to issue new planning guidance for solar farms that urges local authorities to give more weight to local communities’ concerns.

During the planning process Hadstone Energy sought to directly involve the community in the proposals. One of the concerns raised at a community consulatation session was that of the loss of agricultural land, however, this concern was settled by Hadstone Energy’s commitment to continue grazing sheep on the site.

After the community outreach programme, 95% of attendees indicated that they ‘supported or strongly supported’ the proposed solar farm at Watchfield while 95% ‘agreed or strongly agreed’ that renewable energy in Somerset was important.  

Granting planning permission, Sedgemoor District Council noted: “The proposed installation will not have an adverse visual impact or adverse impact upon the landscape, ecology or residential amenity.”

Hadstone Energy estimates that the proposed solar site will provide enough renewable energy to power 2,500 local homes a year.