Concerns raised over visual impact of solar farm plan
Protests are growing over plans to build a solar farm on land near Hunstrete which objectors claim will turn the hamlet into New Holland with a military style encampment of panels.
The application by green energy company TGC renewables is for a photovoltaic solar farm on 39 acres – the equivalent of 32 football pitches – of green belt land either side of the A368 between Marksbury and Hunstrete.
The proposal is for ground-based racking systems with 26,980 modules, power inverter stations, transformer stations, security fencing and associated access gates, and CCTV cameras mounted on freestanding poles.
The farm is expected to generate 6.78GWh a year which will power 1,635 homes.
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The land is used for growing crops and TGC said the development is being designed to allow the farmer to graze sheep should he wish.
The company said the purpose of the farm is to provide a clean and sustainable form of electricity designed to help meet the Government's target of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020.
It held two consultation events earlier this year and said the response from local people was that they appeared to be happy with the proposals.
Resident Tim Warren, who is also a Bath and North East Somerset councillor, said he recognised there was a need to generate more sustainable energy but questioned the visual impact of the scheme.
Mr Warren said: "I appreciate that B&NES has set challenging targets for this, but we cannot ride roughshod over our beautiful countryside.
"In the formal application the applicants admit themselves that there will be a negative visual effect.
"If the applicants really think that building the equivalent of eight bungalows and covering the rest of the 39 acres with what could be likened to a monstrous greenhouse has no significant effect on the greenbelt, then they must live in a totally different world to the rest of us."
He said he believed it was a totally unacceptable site adding the "if the application was granted it would be nothing short of a disaster for the area".
The expiry date for consultations is Monday, November 19, and B&NES has set a target decision date of January 16.