THE chief executive of Dorset Wildlife Trust has hit back at claims that the Trust’s ‘Save Rampisham Down’ campaign is undemocratic.

The Trust has received criticism suggesting members were not given a clear opportunity to have their say on the matter.

In an email to a concerned member seen by the Echo, Dr Simon Cripps says the campaign ‘is quite transparently aimed at reversing a perverse planning decision’.

He said: “Not all members will agree with our campaign aims as we have a wide range of members, but our own recent surveys tells us that the single main reason that our members support us is because they want us to stand up for wildlife.”

The campaign is in response to a decision made by West Dorset District Council’s planning committee last month not to overturn the decision to build a solar park in West Dorset.

The solar park would be built on a legally protected wildlife site at the former transmitting station Rampisham Down.

But as revelaed yesterday, the Government has now put the planning permission on hold until specific authorisation is granted.

As well as creating renewable energy, it was heard the park would create jobs and provide an economic boost. Dorset Wildlife Trust and Natural England objected to the application.

Dr Cripps said: “We ask and listen and are very transparent, so we are indeed extremely democratic. We have therefore a clear mandate from our members to act to save wildlife in this way.”

The 72-hectare site is one of the largest sites of lowland acid grassland remaining in England. Sites of lowland acid grassland are said to provide space for a wide range of insects to thrive, including wasps, butterflies and grasshoppers. A number of bird species also use acid grassland for breeding or wintering. In his email, Dr Cripps also says: “We have asked our membership about their views on solar developments in general only about two weeks ago and over 80 per cent of the 500 respondents support our position.

“This I would suggest makes us more democratic and accountable than even the local authority, which doesn’t appear to have acted in line with overwhelming public opinion against the solar power station in West Dorset.”

  •  To find out more information about the campaign, visit