Solar park for Backwell?

Solar park for Backwell?

A SOLAR energy park could be built across five fields on the outskirts of Backwell.

Sunlec wants to build a solar park to the north east of Downside and is now asking North Somerset Council whether an environmental impact assessment needs to be carried out before a planning application is submitted.

The park would cover around 18 hectares on the green belt and would be close to three homes in the area - Oatfield Farm, Edson’s Farm and Old Farm.

Sunlec is a renewable energy provider and is currently applying to set up solar parks across the England and south Wales.

In a report to North Somerset, Sunlec explained that the photovoltaic panels would be just 2-3m above ground level on steel frames fixed to five-10 inverters.

The inverters are about the size of a refrigerator and convert the direct current produced by the panels to alternated current which can be exported to the local electricity grid.

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The report states ‘the electrical connection will not require large pylons as might be the case for a power station or large wind farm.

Instead export would likely be achieved via an underground connection to the existing substation at Bristol Airport’.

The applicant also added that a 2-3m tall security fence would be required to secure the facility.

A planning application has yet to be submitted but Backwell Parish Council said it would be keen to comment on the development.

Council clerk Jane Stone said: “This development would be something the parish council would be keen to make comments on. There are three properties in Backwell which are close it to it.”

District councillor for Backwell, Tom Collinson, added: “This is a very serious invasion of the green belt and while energy solutions of this kind have advantages they should be looked at in more suitable locations.

“There would be better locations in Weston, such as the old Weston airfield.”

Sunlec has estimated that it would take three months to build the solar energy park and the park is expected to have an operational life of 25 years.

The report stated that the site would be unmanned during the day, but monitored by CCTV and site inspections would be carried out every three months.