Solar farm ruled out on landscape and heritage grounds

The adverse landscape and heritage impacts of a 20-hectare solar farm in the Dorset countryside outweigh its renewable energy benefits, an inspector has found.

The farmland site formed part of the countryside setting of a number of listed buildings and conservation areas. After weighing less than substantial harm to heritage assets against the public benefits of assisting in tackling climate change, tree and hedgerow planting and economic benefits to the construction industry and the rural economy, the inspector concluded that the balance just tipped in favour of granting permission.

In assessing the scheme’s effects on the area’s attractive rural character and appearance, the inspector recognised that the appeal site did not form part of a designated landscape and impacts would be localised. Nonetheless, he agreed with the council’s assessment that the site formed part of a river valley landscape that exhibited demonstrable physical attributes that made it a valued landscape.

He concluded that the utilitarian appeal development would erode the area’s pastoral character, in conflict with local plan policy and government objectives for valued landscapes. Weighing this adverse effect in combination with the harm to the significance of heritage assets, he concluded that the benefits of the proposal were insufficient to merit planning permission.

Inspector: Neil Pope; Written representations

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