Saturday, June 8, 2013

Site in Monk Sherborne is being assessed

By Emily Roberts
A RENEWABLE energy company is assessing a site in Monk Sherborne for a possible solar farm, which could power 865 homes.
Lightsource Renewable Energy Limited held a community information evening to provide further details of its plans for Hill End Farm at Sherborne St John Village Hall.
The company, which develops and operates solar PV plants, is assessing the site for a 2.8MW solar farm which, it claims, could generate enough green energy to power 865 typical households continuously without any noise or pollution, saving up to around 1,476 tons of CO2 a year – the equivalent of taking 328 large family cars off the road.
Conor McGuigan, business development director for Lightsource, said: “Open channels of communication with the local community enable us to refine our proposals and address concerns prior to submitting a formal planning application. This is a very important part of our development process.
“We have already dispatched information packs and notices to residents of the local area and we are making every attempt to make our proposals known to the community.”
But Monk Sherborne Parish Council knew nothing of the company’s interest in the area.
Cally Morris, council clerk, said: “We haven’t been made aware of it.”
If the planning application is successful, Lightsource will rent 6.37 hectares of land at Hill End Farm under a guaranteed, 25-year fixed-term agreement, which is linked to the Retail Pricing Index. This means that the rental income will increase in line with inflation rates over time.
The company has engaged with landscape and ecological consultants to assess the ecology around the farm, and recommend options for additional planting and seeding on the site.
Lightsource selected Hill End Farm because it is relatively flat with good access, and also benefits from proximity to a viable grid connection and good screening from existing mature vegetation, although additional screening will be added if necessary.
Lightsource said the landowner also showed an interest in offering part of their under-utilised property for solar development.
Mr McGuigan added: “When we develop a new solar farm, we are entering into an agreement with the landowner and council for a period of some 25 years.
“We take great care to make as little impact as possible during the construction phase, and put in place appropriate measures to encourage and protect local wildlife.”
At the end of the 25 years, Lightsource will be responsible for the decommissioning of the plant and the land will be returned to its original state.