'You'll be able to see it from Weymouth!'- residents share views on solar farm plan

Public feedback event for the solar panel farm at Chickerell, Weymouth at Portesham Village Hall. Picture: Cristiano Magaglio <i>(Image: Cristiano Magaglio)</i>
Public feedback event for the solar panel farm at Chickerell, Weymouth at Portesham Village Hall. Picture: Cristiano Magaglio (Image: Cristiano Magaglio)

Residents have shared their concerns over proposed plans to build a solar farm just north of Weymouth in Chickerell.

They attended a public information event at Portesham Village Hall held by developers Statera Energy, which asked for residents' feedback on the scheme.

Locals were keen to say what they thought.

Contract farm manager Mark Moderski, who has farmed part of the proposed site for the last 30 years, attended.

If the project goes ahead, he will lose 500 acres - about half of the land he farms - which he says is not nearly as ‘poor quality’ as Statera has stated in the plans.

Mr Moderski said: “I have grown milling grade bread wheat, malt barley and oats for 30 years, all good quality for human consumption. Statera’s statement about this land being poor quality is absolute rubbish.”

In 2018, the National Grid said it was to going to remove 22 pylons to give uncluttered views of the countryside across part of the proposed site for the scheme.

Pamela Mort, who lives in Buckland Ripers, says her house will directly overlook the planned solar panels. She said: “They have just spent £116 million putting pylons underground because it is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and now they want to put in a field of solar panels.

“They should be put on supermarkets or new developments, not on arable land in an AONB. It is going to ruin the view. I reckon you could see it from Weymouth.”

At the event on Tuesday, November 22, at Willowbed Hall in Chickerell it is estimated more than 150 attended, and 100 feedback sheets were turned in.

Andrew Troup, Development Director for the scheme, said: “I don’t think it will be as visible as some people think. and although they have removed a few pylons, they still dominate the area.

“For solar panels, some of these fields are the best in the country.

“Dorset Council wants a large number of solar panels, and if nobody likes them here then where are they going to put them?

“We had a good turnout on Tuesday, some determined people against the scheme, but I think the majority just had questions or were even supportive. We had some great questions, and everyone was really civilised.”

The current plan is to submit a development consent order for development in Q4 of 2023, and it is hoped work would start in Q1 of 2027, with the solar park to be active in that same year.