CAMPAIGNERS are fighting plans for a giant 65-acre solar park which they claim will devastate the Somerset Levels’ beautiful landscape.
The firm behind the project, British Solar Renewables, says the impact on the environment of the Aller Court Solar Park will be limited and the farm will provide electricity from a renewable source which will give power to approximately 5,500 homes.
However residents in villages around the Somerset Levels say their homes will now look over the proposed park, which they say will swallow up the faming landscape as well as ruin major wildlife trails which are a big attraction for tourists. The farm would cover an area the same as 65 football pitches or a car park for 9,060 cars. A planning application for the park is expected in the next few days.
A spokesman for the Save Aller Moor action group, set up to fight the proposals, said the plans have not been well publicised and many people living in Stathe and other villages were not aware until days ago of the huge-scale proposal.
He added: “A lot of these villagers have already been devastated by the winter floods earlier in the year. Many people have seen the value of their homes go down and have had a difficult time. Now we are faced with proposals that would devastate the area. People who had been flooded thought at least they were blessed with living in a beautiful area, now this will be taken away from them as well. We want to do what we can to make people aware of this and stop it happening. People just won’t come here any more, they will go somewhere which doesn’t have a giant solar park slap bang in the heart of it.”
The rural land for the farm is on the isle of Aller, a raised area which means it can be easily overlooked by villagers all over the Levels including Aller, Stathe and Burrowbridge, campaigners say. It would also be visable from all surrounding hills, viewpoints, monuments and roads on both sides of the Parrett. The Parrett Trail is a major riverside route used by tourists which passes through Chedington, Ham Hill, Langport, Gawbridge Mill via South Petherton and Bridgwater Docks to Steart point.
A spokesman for British Solar Renewables said the company couldn’t get a full statement on their proposals before the Bridgwater Mercury went to press, but would be providing their side in a follow up article for next week’s edition.
Campaigners will be discussing the project at the next meeting of Aller Parish Council at Aller village hall at 7.30pm on September 15.