Agenda item

Application No: P/FUL/2021/01018 - North Dairy Farm Access To North Dairy Farm Pulham Dorset DT2 7EA

Install ground-mounted solar panel photovoltaic solar arrays, substation, inverter stations, transformer stations, security fencing, gates and CCTV; form vehicular access, internal access track, landscaping and other ancillary infrastructure.


The Development Management Area Manager (N) presented the report for an application to install ground-mounted solar panel photovoltaic solar arrays, substation, inverter stations, transformer stations, security fencing, gates and CCTV; form vehicular access, internal access track, landscaping and other ancillary infrastructure.


The application had been brought to the Strategic and Technical Planning Committee at the request of the Service Manager due to the scale of the proposed development and the judgement required in considering whether the public benefits of the scheme outweighed the harm to the setting of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).  The application had  been the subject of a committee site visit on 14 June 2023.

Cllr Tooke elected not to participate in the application as he had been unable to attend the site visit on 14 June 23.

The context and plan of the site was detailed with the aid of a visual presentation, together with ancillary structures.


With the aid of a visual presentation, the Development Management Area Manager (N) highlighted the relevant restraints of the application, including heritage assets, the key planning considerations, the principle of development and the significant public benefits.  The development, if approved would power 11,745 homes over a 35 year lifespan.

The main planning considerations were flood risks, a flood risk sequential test had been applied and having checked alternative potential sites in the Dorset Council area, officers were satisfied that the sequential test had been passed.

Members were advised that the solar arrays would not impede flood plain storage and following construction there would be no staff working permanently on the site. No objections had been raised by the Lead Local Flood Authority.

Historic England had made no comments, or given further advice regarding the Scheduled Monuments, officers considered that there was no harm to the designated assets and scheduled monuments.

Comments the Senior Conservation Officer indicated no objection and no harm to the settings of listed buildings, Hazelbury Bryan Conservation Area and Dungeon Hill Scheduled Monument. And less than substantial harm to the setting of Rawlsbury Camp

I relation to the landscape impact and character, there would be some residual harm, which when mitigated would be outweighed by the scheme in terms of new energy regeneration.

Although some impacts remained, these had been mitigated by amendments to scheme and the reduction in the number of arrays which made the impacts more acceptable.

Officers detailed the impacts of the loss of agricultural land, highways and transport implications, residential amenity, biodiversity and tree protection, if approved the scheme would result in 75% biodiversity net gain and decommissioning of the site and restoration after 35 years.

In summarising the Development Management Area Manager (N) reiterated that the site would power 13000 homes each year and offer a significant number of jobs during construction, there was no harm to heritage assets, the sequential and exception test was approved and the mitigation acceptable,

The site avoided the best agricultural land and would after 35 years be returned to agricultural use.  There would be a gain in biodiversity with no harm to neighbouring amenity or highways.

The recommendation was to grant subject to conditions outlined.


Oral Representation in objection to the application was received from A Cake, I Bryan and M Bentley


F Button, Deputy CEO at BSR (British Solar Renewables) the applicant addressed the committee in support of the application.


Oral representation in objection to the application was received from H Fairman (Pulham Village Meeting Parish Council), D Horrell (Mappowder Parish Council), C May (Lydlinch and Kings Stag) and Cllr Pauline Batstone, Ward Member for Dorset Council.


Concerns of those objecting focussed on the risk of flooding, lack of consultation from the applicant, climate change resulting in further flooding, the surface run of water and no infiltration tests having been undertaken, the method of planning balance, adverse impact on the AONB, loss of farmland, unsuitable access to the site, impacts on historical assets and the energy would energy produced would not benefit Dorset directly.


The applicant re-iterated the benefits of the scheme.


In response to the comments from public speakers the Project Engineer advised that the applicant had provided a very robust flood risk assessment and flood water drainage strategy, with those proposed mitigation measures there was no additional risk of flood water from the site.


Responding to objectors perceived lack of consultation the Legal Business Partner (regulatory) advised members that there was a statutory requirement to carry out pre-application consultation with local people, but this was limited to specific types of wind power and did not apply to this application.


The Transport Development Liaison Manager was in attendance virtually and he responded to the concerns raised in relation to construction traffic.  There were no concerns from Highways.

The Head of Planning addressed the comments regarding consultation, he appreciated there were significant concerns, however it was important to consider the public benefits in the broader term not just local benefits.


Following public speaking the committee members were given the opportunity to ask questions prior to debating the application.


Officers responded and advised that the model used in assessing fluvial flooding was up to date and took climate change into account.  There was a need to demonstrate that any development would not make flooding worse, the modelling was very conservative and tended to over-estimate.  Following a query about the restoration condition (No 18) it was suggested that for clarity the condition be updated to state that it wouldn’t be a requirement for the soft landscaping to be removed.  It was not considered that the arrays would increase flood risks and to mitigate the glare and appearance they would have a film to reduce those impacts.  The habitat mitigation payment of £48,000 was discussed and the inclusion of routes through the site for wildlife, maintenance and grazing on grassland and access for fire safety vehicles.


On balance the committee members felt that the benefits of the scheme outweighed the adverse impact.







Proposed by: Cllr Belinda Ridout, seconded by Cllr Kelvin Clayton


Proposed by: Cllr Toni Coombes, seconded by Cllr Shane Bartlett  


That a condition be added to ensure that if the access track is damaged then it would be the responsibility of the developer to put right.


Decision: that permission be granted, subject to the completion of a legal agreement under section 106 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (as amended) in a form to be agreed by the Legal Services Manager to secure the following: £28,029.00 as a Conservation Payment to pay for the creation/restoration and management of sufficient new habitat for great crested newts and to compensate for the impacts of the applicant’s proposal for 25 years. With the additional condition proposed by Cllr Coombes, the amended condition 18 and the conditions outlined in the appendix to these minutes.


In accordance with procedural rule 8.1 a vote was taken, the committee agreed to exceed the 3 hour meeting time limit.


12;45 Cllrs Kelvin Clayton and Jean Dunseith left the meeting.


12;46 – 13;00 comfort break.




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