CONCERNS have been raised over plans for a huge solar farm in the countryside.

The 54 hectare site near South Perrott is being proposed by Elgin Energy and could generate up to 32 megawatts – enough for around 10,000 homes.

But those living and working nearby that the site claim it will be too big and be harmful to the landscape.

Dorset Council and Somerset County Council are currently deliberating on whether to give consent to the proposal as the site stretches across the two counties. If consent is given, the site is expected to take between four and six months to develop and could be in operation for 30 years.

An online consultation was held during the lockdown.

Elgin Energy claims “a strong level of support for both the generation of renewable energy and contribution to addressing climate change,” as a result of an online questionnaire, however only five people responded and a website it set up only received 327 visits in total.

As a result of the consultation the company says it amended its plans to move panels further away from a public right of way and has further developed a landscaping scheme which will help screen the area.

Judith Hall, owns and manages Manor Farm Holiday Cottages in North Perrott.

She said: "I'm an environmentalist, so I certainly see the benefits of solar panels.

"I can understand the need for more solar farms but this is too big. Thirty acres could be screened and properly managed - how can anyone monitor a solar farm of this size? I think we need to keep solar farms smaller and more manageable until we've done enough research."

Mrs Hall claims the site would be detrimental to tourism in the area. One of the most renowned walks in the area the River Parrett Trail, which runs from Chedington to Stert, Somerset, would go past the proposed site.

She also claims that toxic chemicals such as lead and cadmium, which can often be found in solar panels, could end up seeping into the river over time.

She added: "I'm also concerned from a financial point of view as one of the key reasons people come to visit the area is being taken away by this industrialised area."

The online planning application to Dorset Council currently has four objections - including one from Mrs Hall - and one comment in support.

Other objectors claim that the solar farm would be 'disruptive' and the area should be left as it is, the perimeter fence of the site will prevent animals from using established routes, and that the case for solar is 'contested'.

The comment in favour of says the area is an 'ideal site for a solar installation' and 'is sufficiently secluded to avoid changing the views from nearby houses'.