BRIDGWATER could soon end up with not one, but two new solar farms after plans for a new facility near the M5 were put forward.
Somerset County Council submitted formal plans earlier this year for a £3M solar farm on the former Saltlands landfill site north of the town’s recycling centre.
Now Enviromena has submitted its own application for a large solar farm on land a short distance from Junction 23 of the M5.
Sedgemoor District Council is expected to decide whether the latter plans can proceed later in the spring.
The Enviromena site lies to the east of the motorway, sandwiched between Horsey Lane and the King’s Sedgemoor Drain, with Junction 23 to the north and the Willow Man sculpture to the south-west.
If approved, the site would be accessed from Horsey Lane (which leads off the A39 Bath Road) and would generate 24 MW of power – enough to power thousands of local homes.
While the site does lie within flood zone 3 (meaning it is at high risk of flooding), it is protected by local flood defences – meaning it is relatively appropriate for this kind of solar installation.
A spokesman for Enviromena said: “This is an appropriate use for the site given its low impact and limited constraints, [as well as] the surrounding context which is dominated by the M5 motorway and distribution centre.
“The proposed development is temporary and can easily revert back to its current state, and ecology improvements are proposed throughout the scheme to encourage biodiversity enhancements.
“The proposed development can be sensitively accommodated in this location due to its existing characteristics and the type and form of development which is being proposed, which is low lying.”
The district council is expected to make a decision on the Horsey Lane plans in the spring, though it is not currently clear whether this decision will be taken in public by the council’s development committee or through the delegated powers of planning officers.
The Reading-based company expects that it would have the facility constructed and operational within 16 weeks if approval is granted.
A decision on the county council’s Saltlands proposals is expected to be made by its regulation committee later in the year.