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Dorset locals hit out at huge 100,000-panel solar farm that will send ALL power to City of London

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Campaigners have attacked a massive solar cell under construction in the heart of Dorset that will send all of its electricity to City of London offices.

Almost 100,000 solar panels are currently installed on 75 acres of rolling countryside near the village of Spetisbury.

But the 50 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes – that the farm will produce will not go to local residents keen to become more environmentally friendly.

Instead, green power will be delivered 120 miles to London’s Square Mile where it will power office buildings such as the Gherkin and Guildhall.

Last year, the City of London Corporation, which manages the capital’s financial district, signed a Β£ 400million contract with French energy company Voltalia.

The authority has agreed to finance the construction of the solar panels in Dorset in return for all the electricity they produce.

Dorset Council has given the green light to the project and construction is now well underway.

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), an environmental lobby group, accused the city of plundering a campaign valuable for its energy.

Nearly 100,000 solar panels are currently installed on 75 acres of rolling countryside near the village of Spetisbury

Nearly 100,000 solar panels are currently installed on 75 acres of rolling countryside near the village of Spetisbury

But the 50 megawatts of electricity - enough to power 15,000 homes - that the farm will produce will not go to local residents keen to become more environmentally friendly.

But the 50 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 15,000 homes – that the farm will produce will not go to local residents keen to become more environmentally friendly.

Instead, green power will be delivered 120 miles to London's Square Mile where it will power office buildings such as the Gherkin and Guildhall.

Instead, green power will be delivered 120 miles to London’s Square Mile where it will power office buildings such as the Gherkin and Guildhall.

The authority has agreed to finance the construction of the solar panels in Dorset in return for all the electricity they generate

The authority has agreed to finance the construction of the solar panels in Dorset in return for all the electricity they generate

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), an environmental lobby group, accused the city of plundering a campaign valuable for its energy

But the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), an environmental lobby group, accused the city of plundering a campaign valuable for its energy

The energy produced at the solar plant will be taken by an intermediary utility company which will direct it - or

The energy produced at the solar plant will be taken by an intermediary utility company which will direct it – or “sleeve” – ​​to the City of London for a fee.

In return, the utility company agrees to provide additional electricity when the power plant's power output does not meet the City's demands.

In return, the utility company agrees to provide additional electricity when the power plant’s power output does not meet the City’s demands.

There are already several other solar farms in the area, including one north of Spetisbury and another near Blandford St Mary.

Rupert Hardy, President of CPRE Dorset who opposed the proposals, said: β€œWe opposed the plans due to the impact on the countryside and farmland in the area.

β€œThis land should be used to provide food in Dorset – not electricity in London.

β€œWe would much prefer the energy produced in our county to be used here, especially when it profanes our beautiful landscape.

β€œThe solar farm is within sight of the Cranborne Chase Outstanding Natural Beauty Area.

β€œWhat we would like to see is more solar panels on the roofs. London should stop plundering our countryside.

The agreement, known as the “sleeve agreement”, is the first of its kind in the UK to be signed between a private company and the government authority.

It will save the City of London Corporation around Β£ 3million in energy costs per year and provide more than half of its electricity for 30 years.

The energy produced by the solar power plant will be channeled through a mid-level utility company that will direct it – or ‘sleeve’ – to the City of London for a fee.

In return, the utility company agrees to provide additional electricity when the power plant’s output does not meet the City’s demands.

Simon Holt, Director of Voltalia in the UK, said: β€œAll the energy produced at the plant will go to the City of London as a customer through its existing utility provider.

“Because it depends on sunlight, there may be times of low production and the utility company agrees to fill the gap.”

Mr Holt said it was “inevitable” that renewable energy facilities would be built in the countryside.

He continued, β€œIt is important that they are sensitively located outside of areas of national beauty and national parks.

β€œWe carefully consider the potential impact of a project and we certainly think that in this case the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.

β€œThe South Farm solar power plant will be built in a hollow in the landscape that is difficult to see from the surrounding area – we have its positioning perfectly.

β€œNetwork availability is hard to come by, so we had to use it.

β€œCOP22 has made it clear that we need to act on climate change – unless we act, things are going to really get bad.

β€œIt’s part of this action – we are trying to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels to produce the necessary energy. This will have a big impact on the future.

Andrew Kerby, local councilor for Spetisbury, said the project was a ‘win-win’.

He said: β€œThe countryside and the landscape are far from natural and static, no matter what city dwellers think.

β€œThe reality is that agriculture and the way we farm have changed. Formerly, farmers harvested light to grow grain, now they harvest light to generate electricity.

β€œFor me, it’s a win-win. Solar power offers the potential to provide a renewable carbon-free energy source that will go some way to reduce global warming and give our environment a chance to survive.

According to Holt, the bulk of construction will take place from February 2022 when solar panels are installed at the site.

The plant is expected to start producing power by the middle of next year.

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