CAMPAIGNERS are celebrating after controversial plans to build a solar farm in west Dorset were rejected.

West Dorset District Council has turned down proposals by British Solar Renewables to construct a 5MW solar farm at Sadborow Lane in Thorncombe – with the authority describing the plans as “a geometric industrial type development”.

Developers wanted permission to build the solar farm along with inverter stations, access tracks, security fencing and security cameras.

The solar farm would have lasted for 25 years, before either being removed or extended.

A decision notice from head of planning at WDDC, Jean Marshall, said: “It is considered that the scheme, by reason of its extent and scale, comprising dark coloured PV panel arrays in linear repetitive rows, together with the ancillary infrastructure would result in a geometric industrial type development visible from public rights of way.

“This would harm the character and special qualities of the site, the Axe Valley Hills landscape character area, the setting of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the local landscape. Hence the scheme is considered contrary to policies ENV 1, ENV 10 and COM 11 of the West Dorset, Weymouth and Portland Local Plan.”

Villagers from three communities had campaigned to stop the solar farm from going ahead, with Stop Sadborow Solar welcoming the decision by the district council.

Sir Alex Allan, from Stop Sadborow Solar, said: “The decision

recognises the widespread public concerns about the proposal from all three parishes affected as well as from local visitors.

“There were more than 300 letters of objection, with only 13 in support.

“The decision recognises that the proposal was completely contrary to the policies in the recent West Dorset Local Plan. Natural England, the Dorset AONB partnership and other bodies had recommended refusal.”

He added: “As the decision says, the proposed solar farm would have created an industrial type development that would harm the character and special qualities of what is a beautiful and unspoilt rural site.

“Many local residents and visitors value and enjoy access to what the senior planning officer describes as ‘this remote and cherished landscape’. The solar farm would have been visible and intrusive across a wide area.”