Objections to plans for 94-acre solar panel park at Hinton

Ring o' Bells Farm

Ring o’ Bells Farm

Objections have been lodged over plans to put solar panels on 94 acres of Green Belt land at Hinton.

The proposals for Ring o’ Bells Farm at Pucklechurch Road have been submitted to South Gloucestershire Council by Cheshire-based Green Energy Commercial Ltd.

The site is next to the M4 and the plans are for 16 megawatt solar photovoltaic panels which equates for enough electricity produced to power 4,000 homes and a reduction of almost 7,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

The solar farm would feed into the National Grid, not directly into the local community.

Green Energy Commercial UK says construction works would be carried out over eight to 12 weeks and trucks would enter the site via Feltham Road.

A bridle path which runs through the centre of the site would have to be re-routed, following the boundary of the panels and connecting with Washpool Lane.

The applicant says there are several mature trees on the site to ensure significant screening and that the farmer is committed to using the land for grazing, ensuring Ring o’ Bells continues as an operational active farm.

The panels would be in service for 25 years, after which they would be decommissioned.

But objectors say the site is Green Belt, where development is only allowed in very special circumstances, and that the Government no longer supports greenfield sites for solar panels and is urging suppliers to find brownfield and roof sites only.

They say access would be via narrow, winding roads and are concerned about pollution of the River Boyd from detergents used to clean the panels which would become dirty as they are so close to the M4.

Safety of drivers using the motorway has also been flagged up. One objector said: “Motorists travelling west would emerge from the Tormarton interchange cutting and be suddenly confronted by a vast area of black. It is well established that unexpected features close by fast roads distract drivers and accidents. The proposed solar array thus constitutes a safety hazard.”

Concerned locals also highlight the fact that an historic environment setting assessment carried out by the applicant completely ignores the impact on Grade I Dyrham House, the National Trust property close by.

The application reference isPK14/2339/F.