Mixed views for Tormarton solar farm
PLANS for a sizeable solar farm in Tormarton have met with a mixed reaction from locals.
Green Energy UK Direct is bidding to build a photovoltaic energy park, which will see hundreds of solar panels located on 200 hectares of land, at Grange Farm on Marshfield Road. Electricity created will be fed into the National Grid.
The Cheshire-based company believes South Gloucestershire meets its strict criteria for such a project and says a solar park here would be of benefit to the south of the UK.
But local residents and councillors have raised concerns because Grange Farm falls within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and that the immediate area will not benefit from reduced electricity bills.
Cllr Sue Hope (Lib Dem, Cotswold Edge) said: “This is AONB land. We have to be mindful that it is a designated landscape.
“It is very early days at the moment and I will wait to see exactly what is being proposed but we could well expect more of these sort of applications.”
At a preliminary exhibition of proposals for the site, residents of Tormarton and surrounding villages complained that half of them had not received leaflets informing them of the consultation event.
One homeowner, who asked not to be named due to links with the landowner of Grange Farm, said: “It is too big. It is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and forms part of the Cotswold Way.
“I think this is being rushed through because subsidiaries from the government for such projects will decrease in April next year.
“And half the people here don’t know anything about it.”
But Paul Monyard, owner of the Compass Inn in Tormarton, said: “I am quite in favour of it.
“I had a nice piece of land I can’t see why we don’t use it to generate something.”
The size of the farm being proposed would create 10,000MWH of electricity every year and although the 152 houses in Tormarton require just a fraction of that power, Green Energy said the electricity would go into the National Grid but the development would produce over 3,000 tonnes of carbon each year helping the country meets its carbon reduction targets.
Planning officer Matt Bayley said the plans were at a very early stage.
“We wanted to speak to local residents at this early stage and before Christmas,” he said. “It is good to get their feedback and we will then come back in January and do another consultation with more detailed plans.”
He said the company aimed to submit a planning application in March with the aim of building the farm in 2015.