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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

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Review ordered into plans for huge solar park in Cumbria

A solar park scheme which has provoked anger among residents is to be the subject of an environmental impact assessment.

The proposed development, which would be the size of 40 football pitches, has generated fierce opposition in and around Bothel.

Green Switch Solutions want to build the park at Kirkland Green, between the A595 and A591. The 14.4mw solar farm would involve constructing 72 acres of three-metre-high panels on a metal framework.

It would be 1km away from the border of the Lake District National Park and 650m away from the Bothel Craggs Site of Special Scientific Interest.

An Allerdale Council report states: “The scale... would be a major development or more than local importance with a considerable and prominent presence within the landscape.

“The close proximity to and clear visibility of the site from the nearby national park would result in the potential for a significant effect upon a sensitive landscape.

“This authority therefore consider that the development would constitute an environmental impact assessment development that would require the support of an environmental statement.”

Green Switch Solutions last month held an open exhibition at Bothel Village Hall to show residents their plans. Many attendees voiced concerns about the visual impact the solar park would have, particularly with other wind turbines already in the area.

Bothel resident Adam Jackson, 42, argued in favour of nuclear power and said: “Something like this is ruining the countryside and I can’t believe it is an option here.

“Anybody driving into the village is going to see it. It is going to affect the village and house prices in it.”

Environmental impact assessment guidelines stipulate that the size of the development, its use of natural resources, its cumulative effect with other projects, the production of waste, and the risk of accidents, must all be taken into account.

A Green Switch Solutions spokesman said: “We are at a very early stage with the application and we have had a public consultation event.

“It’s a potentially sensitive area and we wanted to do that as early as possible to get as much feedback as possible.

“People can panic a little when things get posted on the website.”

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