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Washford solar farm – we explain why we are objecting

Becky Collier
By Becky Collier
2nd February 2022

Solar energy is an important part of the UK’s strategy to cut carbon emissions and tackle the climate emergency.

CPRE supports renewable energy projects but we do sometimes have concerns about certain applications for solar parks in open countryside.  Washford Solar Park, in the west of Somerset is one example.

If it is approved, Washford Solar Park would cover 14 fields with solar panels.  The site would be surrounded by 2.45m high security fencing.

The scheme would seriously impact the livelihood of the two tenant farmers who have successfully farmed the land for many years. We believe that much of the land is grade 2 agricultural land, termed Best & Most Versatile (BMV) land. National planning guidance does not justify loss of BMV land for solar farms.

The site sits prominently in the high quality landscape of the beautiful River Washford Valley. It is within the landscape settings of the Exmoor National Park, the Quantocks AONB, and Cleeve Hill. The site is next to the entire length of one of the most popular public footpaths in the area – the ‘Mineral Line’. The location is also adjacent to an existing solar farm. The cumulative impact on the landscape will be unacceptable in our view.

There are currently 123 objections to this proposal, including those from all local Parish Councils and Friends of Quantock, Exmoor National Park and the Quantock Hills AONB.

We have a tricky job here at CPRE Somerset. Every day our skilled volunteers look at major new planning applications and weigh up their pros and cons.  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, Washford Solar Park is not one of these and we believe it will cause significant harm to the landscape.

You can read our objection letter here Washford solar farm

You can read our speaking notes for the planning committee on 20th June here Washford solar farm – speaking notes Washford solar farm

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

How we consider plans for solar farms in the countryside 

A picture pf washford solar farm planning document