Villagers voice crash and flood fears for solar farm plan near Langport
Building an 11.5-hectare solar farm in a village near Langport would be an act of near “vandalism” according to one resident.
The project could also make local flooding worse and construction work could cause road crashes, Pitney residents have claimed.
Developer Roland Billington has applied for planning permission to install solar panels on land to the north of Caves Farm, Stowey Road, Pitney.
But villagers have argued they would spoil the area’s scenery and worsen flooding that already comes close to spilling into homes.
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Martyn Harris, of Marsh Farm, said: “A lot of money has been spent on a flood alleviation scheme recently.
“The area does flood very badly. Fortunately it doesn’t come into people’s homes but it comes very close, and this solar farm will only create far greater problems.
“Water runs down that hill straight into the village.
“It comes down Stowey Road in great torrents. The solar panels are only going to create more surface water as it won’t be able to soak into the ground and it will pour off the panels.”
Mr Harris and a group of residents also believe the solar farm will ruin the picturesque and historic village.
He said: “There are many listed buildings, a 14th century church, Saxon finds, Roman villas and evidence of Iron Age settlement. Pitney is described as a village of significant archaeological importance – the development would be little short of vandalism. It will create a backdrop of black glass to the entire village.”
Tony Higgins, who has lived in Pitney for 73 years, said: “I have seen many changes within the village, which have all blended in well. The solar panels will be situated in an area of natural beauty and I think it would be the worst thing that has happened in this village for centuries.”
Mr Harris said he was concerned construction works could lead to road crashes.
He said the turning onto Stowey Road from the B3153 is a blind bend and drivers often do not stick to the speed limit.
He said: “People often come down the B3153 at speeds of 70 or 80 miles per hour, and if you have got slow moving lorries pulling out of there several times a day then it increases the chance of a serious accident.”
A planning statement by AEE Renewables said the solar farm could provide electricity to more than 1,400 homes and its impact would be kept to a minimum.
It said: “The visual impact could be adequately screened from public views. Significant weight should be attributed to the environmental benefits and the fact that the scheme should be removed after 25 years.”
AEE said the solar farm could be hidden from view by trees and hedgerows, and that the planning permission is sought for a period of 25 years after which the entire site would be returned to agricultural use.