Controversial Charborough Estate solar farm set for approval

A controversial solar farm planned on land owned by South Dorset MP Richard Drax looks set for approval despite the opposition of more than 650 local residents.

Plans for a 28MW solar installation on Mapperton Farm, part of the Charborough Estate owned by Richard Drax, were originally passed in November 2013 however local residents were successful in appealing for a judicial review into the decision.

The review quashed the approval after ruling that the council had failed to comply with Town & Country Planning Regulations with regards to an environmental impact assessment, and the council was subsequently advised to re-screen and reconsider the application in September last year.

Developers Good Energy then returned with a new, scaled-down plan earlier this year. The project has been downsized to 24.2MW comprising 90,000 panels installed across 44 hectares of land.

Plans were submitted in March this year and a council report recommended approval despite more than 650 notices of objection from local residents and campaign groups.

Among the objections are complaints over its size and use of agricultural land, however opposition to its visual impact have been dismissed by the council’s report which considers it to be “very localised”.

A final decision from East Dorset District Council is expected when its committee next meets on 23 June.