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Wessex FM News

Wildlife Trust Shocked By Solar Farm Go Ahead

SOlar Farm

Published at 8:33am 16th January 2015. (Updated at 2:35pm 16th January 2015)

Shocked and appalled - that's the reaction from Dorset Wildlife Trust to news that a large solar farm at Rampisham Down has been given the go ahead.

West Dorset District Council gave their backing to the 24 megawatt solar park yesterday - subject to conditions.

The Trust say it's a legally protected SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) set in the heart of a nationally protected landscape, and is one of the largest sites of lowland acid grassland remaining in England.  It is home to an incredibly rare grouping of plants and fungi, including lose wort, eyebright and waxcap fungi, and supports a range of wildlife from adders to skylarks. 

DWT's Chief Executive, Dr Simon Cripps, said, "With a viable alternative site available, we can't understand why the council have allowed this important wildlife site to be lost to developers. Dorset Wildlife Trust supports renewable energy, in the right place.  These special, legally protected wildlife sites are few and far between and there's no need to destroy them, especially in this case, when there is a perfectly acceptable alternative site nearby, which we support."     
DWT will be lobbying Natural England to take immediate action to ask the Secretary of State to overturn the decision.  The Wildlife Trusts will be launching a national campaign to stop this needless destruction of our natural heritage.

The go ahead for the solar farm also means the 34 iconic radio masts will be replaced with solar panels.

Councillor Ian Gardner, Chairman of West Dorset District Council’s Development Control Committee, said: “In taking this decision we had to balance the economic and environmental benefits of the solar farm and the removal of the 34 redundant masts with the impact of the proposed scheme. There will now be a 21-day “cooling off” period to meet the requirements of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and to allow Natural England to consider the conditions agreed by the committee.”

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