Solar energy park bid set to cause a storm

CONTROVERSIAL plans to build a huge solar energy park in Backwell have finally been unveiled to the public.

Wessex Solar Energy has applied to North Somerset Council for planning permission to build the solar park across five fields in Backwell.

The park would cover 12 hectares on the greenbelt at Garleys Wood, to the north east of Downside. The company first announced its plans in November 2010 when it asked North Somerset Council whether an environmental impact assessment needed to be carried out before a planning application was submitted.

Villagers in Backwell and Wrington raised concerns about the development due to its proximity to several homes and the fact it could be built on greenbelt land.

The plans are due to be discussed at Backwell Parish Council tomorrow (Thurs) and many villagers are expected to turn up to voice their views.

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Bob Taylor, chairman of Backwell Parish Council, said: “I shall be advising the council that it’s on greenbelt and we can’t build on it unless there are special circumstances. I think the people of Downside have got enough up there with the airport.

“They’ve got massive car parks all over the place, the airport, lots of airport traffic - surely they’re not going to have solar panels to look on as well.

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“Lorries will be using the roads and they aren’t suitable for them.

“I don’t think there will be any special reason not to support North Somerset’s policy to protect the greenbelt.

“I can’t speak for the council, because we haven’t discussed it yet but, personally, I would think we will be objecting to it.

“I know we need solar panels and green energy, but not in that particular area.”

The application also reveals the park would also include 11 small buildings to house electrical equipment as well as a 2.5m security fence round the facility to keep it secure.

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