A planned solar park and battery storage facility would be a “monstrosity”, campaigners said.
Developer Statera Energy has unveiled plans to generate renewable energy on 570 hectares of farmland near Weymouth in Dorset.
Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said rooftop solar panels and offshore wind farms were better alternatives.
Statera Energy said it would contribute to climate change mitigation efforts.
Details of the proposed solar park were revealed at a public meeting Tuesday evening.
It would have the capacity to generate up to 300 MW of renewable electricity, with 400 MW of battery storage capacity close to the existing Chickerell substation.
More than 200 acres of the proposed infrastructure lies within the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Chris Loader, MP for Dorset West, previously described the scheme as “an appalling use of green farmland”.
Dr. Guy Dickenson, from CPRE, said: “This huge solar monstrosity is unacceptable. It is sprawling in the beautiful part of the countryside that is essential to our health and well-being. Dorset is exceptionally beautiful and should be preserved at all costs.”
He said the government’s low-carbon energy targets could be “easily” met with offshore wind, Scottish onshore wind, nuclear power and rooftop solar panels.
Andrew Troop, of Statera Energy, said the project was “relatively small” in national terms and that the affected area of ANOB was “no differentiation” from surrounding farmland.
“If we can’t do a modest project like this on poor quality land, with pretty much the highest irradiance in the country, you’re going to have trouble everywhere – the government wants three times as much ground-mounted solar in the country,” said he.
“This is a unique opportunity for Dorset.”
Farmer Robert Lassiter, who owns some of the land on which the panels would be placed, said it would provide an opportunity to diversify the farm’s income.
“We’re farmers through and through — we’re tired of producing food at less than cost of production, it’s demeaning — so this is a good step forward for our family,” he said.
A public consultation will begin next year, with a planning decision possibly in 2025 and the solar park possibly operational from late 2027.
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