FIELDS at Post Farm, Lytchett Minster could become the area’s latest solar power farm – although the idea has already attracted objections.

Developers are looking at the 22 hectare site, in two parcels, just off the A35m to the south of Beacon Hill and close to the Harbour View crematorium.

The site could generate up to 16.83MWatts of power, enough for around 8,000 homes, with an associated 22MWatt battery storage facility on a one hectare site.

The idea has already led to opposition from neighbours and the county’s branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Part of the site adjoins the Upton Heath Site of Special Scientific Interest and the Dorset heathlands Ramsar site.

South West Farmer: Illustration – The proposed site layout – courtesy S4N Lytchett LtdIllustration – The proposed site layout – courtesy S4N Lytchett Ltd

Ward councillor Alex Brenton has asked for the application to be decided by a committee of councillors, rather than planning officers alone.

Landowner Clare Lees from Post Green House says initial proposals have been changed to move the solar panels further away from homes – but says that the site chosen, between the old Dorchester Road and the A35, is best because it is close to the electricity sub-station at Beacon Hill.

She says that other panels on her land have proved to be an attraction for both insects and small birds: “It is completely wrong to suggest the panels are anything other than enormously beneficial to the environment,” she has told Dorset Council in a statement.

Chairman of the Purbeck and Poole CPRE group, Gerald Rigler, claims in his objection that the Green Belt land should be kept as it is “to protect the westward sprawl of the conurbation.”

He also cites the loss of agricultural land; claims that the panels can lead to changes to the soil and to local wind flows, affecting temperatures and rainfall, and warns of a possible danger to drivers on the adjoining rows from sun glinting off the panels.

“Dorset CPRE is particularly opposed to large ‘ground-mounted’ solar photovoltaic installations that can be damaging to Dorset’s prevalent small-scale landscapes, “ he said.

The application comes from S4N Lytchett Ltd which says that the solar photovoltaic arrays will be ground mounted, laid out in east/west, facing south. Five inverters, typically based on 40’ shipping containers, are proposed for the site to convert the DC current generated by the solar modules into AC current, which in turn is then passed via two substations to the national grid.

It says the battery storage facility will comprise of around 19 battery units, housed in containers of 12.2 m long by 2.44 m wide and 2.9 m high and covering an approximate area of 2 – 3 acres. Switchgear will also be required to support this.

No external lighting is proposed although the main solar array site will be surrounded by 2.2m deer-proof galvanised steel wire with the battery area enclosed by palisade fencing for additional security.

A planning application has yet to be submitted for the site.