FURIOUS residents will battle plans for a huge solar farm on the estate of a Dorset MP.

As reported in Saturday’s Daily Echo, Richard Drax has confirmed plans for the site, to cover 174 acres of Mapperton Farm near Almer, have now been submitted.

People living nearby have mounted a campaign to see the proposals withdrawn amid claims that some locals have been “censored” by the estate.

Sir Michael Butler, 86, who has lived in Mapperton for 80 years, said: “It’s such a huge scheme for perfectly good arable land. I understand one resident who wrote to oppose the application as it appears online was told to remove his statement by the estate.”

If approved the solar farm would be the biggest on the south coast, sited on part of the Charborough Estate currently leased by a local farmer.

Dr David Pope, who lives in a neighbouring village, said: “There are several solar farms currently being considered across Dorset, but there’s seemingly no conversation between companies. Six are planned for land within five miles of here.”

It is believed that the solar farm could net up to £2.4 million each year in subsidies.

A statement released by Mr Drax said: “The opinion of the local community was sought prior to submitting the application and will continue to be incorporated.

“The site is well screened and the land will be planted to a wildflower rich grass sward. The local area will benefit from a community fund to be established. At the end of the solar farm project the land will return to the existing agricultural use.”

'Enhance natural habitat'

Hugo House, project developer at Good Energy said: “The site is well screened from the few residential properties nearby and has the potential for a number of biodiversity projects to enhance the natural habitat.

“We would like to plant wildflower meadows to attract bees, butterflies and other pollinating insects, as well as ground nesting birds. The hedgerows will be enhanced with indigenous species and left to grow to a height of 3m to provide even better screening.

“Good Energy has committed to a £25,000 annual community fund, of which £5,000 will be specifically for the hamlet of Mapperton.

“We are also planning to provide roof-mounted solar panels at Sturminster Marshall First School and the village memorial hall, allowing them to generate their own green electricity.”