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Nythe Road solar farm – we explain why we are objecting

Becky Collier
By Becky Collier
13th March 2024

We are living in a climate emergency. CPRE Somerset wants to see more of our energy coming from clean, renewable sources.

However, solar farms must be sited in the most suitable places, reducing environmental damage.  We believe that current plans for a huge solar power plant on the Somerset Levels are inappropriate.

If it is approved, Nythe Road Solar Park would cover 15 fertile green fields with solar panels.  That’s an area of 146 acres. There is already a 40 acre solar plant right next door, granted permission in 2015 – this is what you can see in the picture above and in solid blue on the map below.  If this new scheme gets approved this 186-acre expanse of PV panels will be one of the largest in the Southwest.

map of proposed solar farm

Damage to landscape

No amount of screening will be able to hide the visual impact of this huge industrial power plant in our countryside.  As well as fields full of rows and rows of metal and glass solar panels, there will be perimeter security fencing  – all in place for 40 years.  The plans also include a brick substation  building situated next to a Public Right of Way, which would be permanent.

The pictures below show the view now and a mock up of how the same view would look with the solar panels in place.

view of countryside in summer
View from public footpath on Pedwell Hill – taken summer 2023 | Trevor Bailey

 

view of countryside with solar panels
View from public footpath on Pedwell Hill showing artists impression of solar panels | Trevor Bailey

Loss of farmland

We believe that much of the land is grade 2 or 3a agricultural land, termed Best & Most Versatile (BMV) land. National planning guidance does not justify loss of BMV land for solar farms.

 

Speaking up

We need renewable energy but we also need our countryside.  That is why CPRE’s Rooftop Renewables campaign is calling for more rooftop solar on commercial buildings and new homes.

There are certainly solar farms in Somerset that are well designed and well placed in the landscape. There are those that provide significant community benefits.  Unfortunately, in our opinion, Nythe Road Solar Park is not one of these and we will be submitting our objection in due course.

In the meantime, the local campaign group SOS levels are working hard to oppose this application.  You can read more detail on the SOS Levels website, including suggestions on how you can help and how to send in your own comment to Somerset Council.

Update

So far, three local Parish Councils have said they will be objecting – High Ham PC, Ashcott PC and Walton PC.  This is a clear indication of the feelings of the local community and we are happy to stand alongside them.

 

Read CPRE’s position on solar energy here Solar energy statement February 2022

How we consider plans for solar farms in the countryside 

a group of people holding a banner in front of a solar farm
Local people protesting against Nythe Road Solar farm proposals