Fatal crash on A303 increases fears over solar farm 'glare' risk
A CRASH which killed two people on the A303 last week has fuelled a protest against a giant solar farm near Ilminster.
Residents objected last month to plans to add 40,800 panels to an existing solar array at Parsonage, Dillington.
Solar Century Ltd has applied to extend the existing five-acre site to nearly 50 acres.
If it goes ahead it could be the biggest site in the country and will extend into a large field on the Dillington estate.
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But the plans were met by fierce opposition by people who believe glare from the panels may cause a distraction to drivers on what they say is an already dangerous road.
And they believe their point has been proven by the deaths of a couple in a crash on the road on Thursday, September 30.
Paul Michael Hobday, 60, and Christine Michelle Edney, 69, of Essex, died after their Ford Focus estate collided with a Volkswagen van travelling the opposite way.
Stocklinch parish councillor Claire Hart said: "It's ironic really, in the worst way possible, that just a week after us saying how dangerous that road is two people are killed there.
"It's a very dangerous stretch of road without distractions – we've had MPs like David Laws calling for it to be a dual carriageway because it's so dangerous.
"To even consider putting a distraction like this near it is just ridiculous.
"The national Highways Agency have told us they're not objecting to it – they said it would only reflect onto the road very early in the morning and late in the evening.
"But to me that's like saying accidents during those times don't matter.
"They said to us that there's no evidence solar farms cause a distraction, but there hasn't been one of this size before so of course there isn't."
The residents are also arguing that the site is inappropriate as it should be used for farming and the development will spoil the area's scenery.
A spokesman from Dillington Farms said: "Dillington Farms are keen to promote all types of alternative, low carbon, renewable energy. The UK needs a variety of energy sources. The UK also has international commitments to meet, regarding the percentage of its power coming from renewable sources."
Somerset County Council officer Linda Hayden has recommended that the council approve the plans at the Area West Committee meeting on Wednesday.
She said in her report: "The provision of this solar farm accords with the Government's objective to encourage the provision of renewable energy sources and is considered to raise no significant landscape or visual amenity concerns or other substantive planning concern."
It will be discussed at 5.30pm on Wednesday at the Tatworth Memorial Hall.