DORSET councillors are to visit a West Dorset holiday park site to see the location of a planned solar installation for themselves.

A decision on a planning application for hundreds of solar panels at the Highlands End Holiday Park at Eype has now been deferred until that site visit takes place.

The application had resulted in objections from dozens of local residents, including a recently-formed group set up to oppose the plans for 300 panels in the proposed location.

A similar scheme was rejected in March 2022 by councillors who decided that it would look out of character in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The latest application, which was due to be decided at a meeting in Dorchester last week( 7th) had resulted in negative comments from planning officers.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: The proposed location for the solar installationThe proposed location for the solar installation (Image: Solar SW)

A report to the western and southern area planning committee said: “The proposed installation of solar photovoltaic panels would be an intrusive feature in this sensitive landscape which would erode its pastoral qualities and result in harm to the special landscape and visual qualities of the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Heritage Coast which could not be suitably assimilated or mitigated.”

The officer had asked that alternative, less intrusive, sites be investigated.

The 300 solar panels are said to be capable, at peak, of producing 225kW of power for the existing caravans, buildings and car charging points with any surplus energy diverted to first heat the swimming pool and then to be fed to the National Grid.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News: Architect drawing for landscape mitigation detailsArchitect drawing for landscape mitigation details (Image: Solar SW)

Dorset Council’s landscape officer said that the revised scheme only offered minor change and did not overcome the previous reasons for refusal.

Objectors claimed the field proposed for the solar panels provides a natural buffer between the Conservation Area, village and the holiday park.

Several argued that the visitor economy is driven largely by the beauty and unspoilt nature of the Heritage Coast and to allow the panels would “destroy the reason people come to this unique area.”