Energy & Recycling

Published: August 4, 2022 | Updated: August 5, 2022

Developer behind plans for 190-acre solar park agrees a community benefit fund partnership

By Andrew Diprose, editor

A renewable energy developer behind controversial plans for a solar park covering 190 acres has agreed a community benefit fund partnership with Dorset Community Foundation.

Once in action it will fund local projects, providing grants for a wide range of causes.

British Solar Renewables (BSR Energy) has submitted plans for North Dairy Solar Park on land at North Dairy Farm, Pulham, between Sherborne and Dorchester.

It will have a generating capacity of up to 49.9MW, which is expected to power 13,000 family homes while displacing 13,000 tonnes of CO2 per year.

BSR Energy says this represents an emission saving equivalent to a reduction in approximately 5,841 cars per year.

The company also claims the solar park will bring significant biodiversity net gains to the local ecosystem with a 52.9 per cent net gain in habitats and a 27.91 per cent net gain in hedgerows.

However, the plans have sparked fierce opposition with pressure group Save Hardy’s Vale claiming the solar farm will blight areas of unspoilt countryside in the Blackmore Vale which inspired the novelist Thomas Hardy.

The planning application is still under consideration with a committee date yet to be confirmed.

With each of its projects BSR explores options for community benefit funds.

The aim is for local residents to directly benefit from solar farms built near them.

Colin Ramsay, pictured left, Head of Development at BSR Energy, which also provides expert services to the renewable energy industry, said: “We are delighted to announce our community benefit partnership with Dorset Community Foundation.

“Ensuring the local people of Dorset can directly benefit from positive projects that have a lasting impact is critical to the values of BSR.

“Dorset Community Foundation is more adept to understanding and addressing the specific needs of local residents, which we believe is an essential of a major planning application.”

Grants from the community benefit partnership will be used to support youth projects including those helping disadvantaged children and young people.

The fund will also work with older people, to help to reduce loneliness and isolation, in addition to funding sports projects, address fuel poverty and support conservation and biodiversity schemes.

Grant Robson, pictured right, Director at Dorset Community Foundation said: “We are a part of a network of 47 local community foundations nationally.

“Many of our colleagues have distributed similar community benefit funds so we are proud that BSR Energy has chosen to work with us in Dorset.

“We will ensure the funds make a real difference to the lives of people in communities around the solar park.

“By working with the grassroots groups and charities who support these communities we can help them address real need in the area so we are very pleased BSR Energy has recognised our expertise.”