Sustainable development company Eco Sustainable Solutions has gained planning permission for a 35MW solar farm in Dorset’s Green Belt.

The 76.7 hectare facility will be located on three parcels of land attached to a waste management and recycling facility close to Bournemouth International Airport in Parley.

Christchurch Borough Council said that exceptional circumstances meant that there was a justification for overriding rules which generally prohibit development in the Green Belt.

An officer’s report to councillors said: “The applicants consider that the site selection process has identified that no other suitable sites are available and that the impact of development on designated sites (SSSI, SAC, SNC), has been assessed as part of that process.”

The 35MW site will be the second solar farm at the recycling centre, joining the 20MW solar farm installed earlier this year.  

The land, which will host ground-mounted PV panels, has been used for maize and turf cultivation, and is on a gradual south-north gradient. As part of the application, the developer noted that it would be grazing sheep under the solar arrays.

Two parish councils opposed the application, but the council said that mitigation measures would reduce the impact of the development on the surrounding environment.

The facility would be removed after 25 years and generate energy for up to 9,000 homes, according to the developer.

According to council officers, less than 1% of Dorset’s energy is produced through renewable sources, less than a third of the national average.