Adverse impact of solar farm too great on national character area

A solar farm and associated infrastructure has been refused on farmland near the M5 in Somerset on the grounds of harm to the character and appearance of the area.

An inspector considered the main issue to be whether the benfits of the scheme would outweigh the harm to the character of the area. The solar farm would generate enough electricity for 5,200 average UK households per annum and offset 265,625 tonnes of carbon dioxide over its 25-year duration. The proposal would have supported and strengthened the farm business through income generation and would not have involved any loss of high grade agricultural land. Nevertheless, the inspector considered that the scale of the development would result in a high magnitude of change to the somerset levels National Character Area in which the proposal was located and concluded that the adverse impact of views from nearby high ground would be unacceptable. He found that the proposal would conflict with the development plan and failed the environmental dimension of sustainable development set out in national policy and guidance. 

Inspector: Neil Pope; Written Representations

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