A 5MW “solar park” has been proposed at Higher Hatherleigh Farm, Grove Lane, about 1 km (0.62 of a mile) south of Wincanton alongside the old S&D railway line adjoining the Wincanton sewage farm .
The solar panels will be in some 33 rows about 3 metres off ground – virtually invisible from any road, but very visible from vantage points like Cucklington or the Monarch’s Way.
The 29 acre installation will generate enough energy to power around 1450 two-bedroom homes. The proposal is for the scheme to last for 25 years, during which time animals like sheep can graze between the panels, thereby preserving an element of agricultural use.
According to the solar power feed in tariff calculator on the Parker Energy website, such a system will cost in the region of £394, 000 and pay back its investment in under 13 years. The total profit over 25 years (when the current scheme ends) will be in the region of £591,000, a return of 6%.
Hatherleigh Farm lies in neighboring Holton Parish. There have been a number of objections, including from the Holton Heritage Trust, which states that the proposal will cause huge damage to the highly valued landscape of the Blackmore Vale. Although the Trust has previously supported planning applications for rooftop panels, it is strongly opposed to panel generation parks in open countryside.
They point out that the proposal goes against the Holton Plan, which has been approved by the council.
Blog comment: The Council is in a difficult position. Solar energy is a good thing, and preferred to 400 ft wind turbines. But if they permit this one, than every landowner in the area will think it worth having a go. With reluctance, we say no, simply because we would not like to see a precedent created- Ed