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Fatal crash on A303 increases fears over solar farm 'glare' risk

By Western Gazette - North Dorset  |  Posted: September 17, 2012

DISTRACTION FEAR:  Richard Hart, Rosanna Chilttenden and Claire Hart are opposed to proposals for a 50 acre solar farm near Ilminster along the A303 as they say glare will cause accidents.  Pictured by Jennie Banks  WGJB20120911A

DISTRACTION FEAR: Richard Hart, Rosanna Chilttenden and Claire Hart are opposed to proposals for a 50 acre solar farm near Ilminster along the A303 as they say glare will cause accidents. Pictured by Jennie Banks WGJB20120911A

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A CRASH which killed two people on the A303 last week has fuelled a protest against a giant solar farm near Ilminster.

Residents objected last month to plans to add 40,800 panels to an existing solar array at Parsonage, Dillington.

Solar Century Ltd has applied to extend the existing five-acre site to nearly 50 acres.

If it goes ahead it could be the biggest site in the country and will extend into a large field on the Dillington estate.

But the plans were met by fierce opposition by people who believe glare from the panels may cause a distraction to drivers on what they say is an already dangerous road.

And they believe their point has been proven by the deaths of a couple in a crash on the road on Thursday, September 30.

Paul Michael Hobday, 60, and Christine Michelle Edney, 69, of Essex, died after their Ford Focus estate collided with a Volkswagen van travelling the opposite way.

Stocklinch parish councillor Claire Hart said: "It's ironic really, in the worst way possible, that just a week after us saying how dangerous that road is two people are killed there.

"It's a very dangerous stretch of road without distractions – we've had MPs like David Laws calling for it to be a dual carriageway because it's so dangerous.

"To even consider putting a distraction like this near it is just ridiculous.

"The national Highways Agency have told us they're not objecting to it – they said it would only reflect onto the road very early in the morning and late in the evening.

"But to me that's like saying accidents during those times don't matter.

"They said to us that there's no evidence solar farms cause a distraction, but there hasn't been one of this size before so of course there isn't."

The residents are also arguing that the site is inappropriate as it should be used for farming and the development will spoil the area's scenery.

A spokesman from Dillington Farms said: "Dillington Farms are keen to promote all types of alternative, low carbon, renewable energy. The UK needs a variety of energy sources. The UK also has international commitments to meet, regarding the percentage of its power coming from renewable sources."

Somerset County Council officer Linda Hayden has recommended that the council approve the plans at the Area West Committee meeting on Wednesday.

She said in her report: "The provision of this solar farm accords with the Government's objective to encourage the provision of renewable energy sources and is considered to raise no significant landscape or visual amenity concerns or other substantive planning concern."

It will be discussed at 5.30pm on Wednesday at the Tatworth Memorial Hall.

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  • Hobberz28  |  October 12 2012, 1:39AM

    You are all a bunch of sad *******s have some respect that was my dad who was killed and think of the passengers family aswell! You all spend too much time on your computers commenting on things so you feel your sad lifes have a purpose. We all know that the main reason you have ur computers is so you can spend some personal time with your hands and have to delete your history before your wife's/partners get home! That's if you don't live with your mums! No more comments please!

  • zeditave  |  September 18 2012, 9:43AM

    Siarad2 - incorrect on all fronts. Variation between troughs and peaks in solar isn't that great, the parks are rated on maximum capacity, the technology to moderate flow of electricity to the grid isn't that complicated and these parks can be switched off in sections, or completely. The only time a full shutdown would be required is when the network operator needed to maintain the lines, which is at least annual. Solar parks are built alongside highways and railway lines around the world, to blame accidents because of drivers not concentrating on the road on solar parks is ridiculous - how about sea views, Stonehenge, cows, fields of sunflowers, rainbows....?

  • dminnis  |  September 17 2012, 2:03PM

    How many incidents on that road can be attributed to people looking at Stonehenge? Maybe we should knock that down or move it?

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  • siarad2  |  September 17 2012, 10:22AM

    Unlike wind energy solar can't be turned off so, in rapidly varying conditions surges can damage grid connected equipment & obviously the larger the farm to more this is a problem.

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