Greenbelt solar park scheme ‘not wanted’ by villagers

CONCERNED villagers in Backwell have vowed to fight plans for a solar energy park in Downside.

Wessex Solar Energy has applied to North Somerset Council for planning permission to build a solar park across five fields on the greenbelt at Garleys Wood.

A number of residents spoke out against the proposal at a meeting of Backwell Parish Council on Thursday.

Bob Child, of Downside, said: “The residents of Downside put up with the airport and all the airport parking and now we’ve got the problem of a solar energy site.

“These panels will be 11ft high in agricultural fields. If every farmer in England wanted to put solar energy farms on their land, we wouldn’t have any food in this country.

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“The land shouldn’t be downgraded. It’s agricultural land.”

Villagers living in Downside also raised concerns about damage to their views, which have already been spoilt by car parks at Bristol Airport.

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Backwell parish councillor Steve Mitchell said: “It’s on greenbelt and a totally inappropriate location for a solar park.

“All this energy is going to be fed into the national grid, it’s not going to benefit the economy or the residents of Backwell, particularly those in Downside.”

Backwell Parish Council agreed to recommend refusal of the application but will be writing to North Somerset Council to ask to be kept updated with any changes to Government policy on such developments so they can comment on the application at a later date if necessary.

Chairman Bob Taylor said: “This proposal is very unpopular. We don’t want it.

“We object because it’s on greenbelt and also because of the impact to residents of Downside who have already got the airport, airport car parks, traffic problems and the expansion of the airport. They shouldn’t have solar panels to contend with as well.”

Cllr Taylor also stressed that villagers against the proposal should voice their objections to North Somerset Council.

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