A SOLAR farm big enough to power 10,600 homes has been approved by Dorset Council just off the A37 close to the county border with Somerset.

The 120-acre site is at Clifton Maybank, a small hamlet between Yeovil, Bradford Abbas and Yetminster.

It is expected to produce 35MW a year.

Approval has been granted to Voltalia Ltd for the 55 hectare site spread over seven fields at Clifton Farm which planners say will be screened on its north west boundary by Clifton Wood with tree belts around the eastern and southern boundaries of the site.

Overhead power lines cross the site with two pylons on the application area, which will connect the solar farm to the national grid.

The approved planning application includes a substation, transformers, internal access tracks and a two-metre security fence around the site, together with CCTV monitoring.

Clifton Maybank map

Clifton Maybank map

Only one local council responded to the application by the time it was decided – Bradford Abbas parish council, which raised concerns about HGVs on the narrow bridges and lanes in the area during construction.

Only four letters of objection were submitted concerned about the effect the solar farm would have on the landscape views, potential harm to the ecology and wildlife; disturbance during construction and no direct financial benefit to the local community.

One described the development as “a dystopian scar on the rural landscape.”

Two letter writers welcomed the scheme – saying it would help Dorset meet its carbon reduction targets and would generate enough clean renewable energy to displace 11,600 tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Clifton Maybank farmland

Clifton Maybank farmland

There were no statutory objections to the proposal although the county’s landscape team suggested that it would be less intrusive if only the south western part of the site was used, which would also avoid effecting some footpaths in the area, which are expected to remain open.

In recommending approval a planning officer concluded: “Officers consider that the adverse visual impact of the development within its immediate setting would be significantly and demonstrably outweighed by the substantial public benefits and other benefits to the scheme.”