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Dorset’s “magical landscape” at risk from solar and wind developments, warns CPRE

Dorset is becoming industrialised with much of its countryside disappearing under solar and wind farms.

That is the warning from Richard Nicholls, regional representative of the CPRE – Campaign to Protect Rural England.

He told members of Dorset CPRE that around 2,000 acres were now allocated to solar panel schemes or windfarms – with more applications in the planning pipeline.

He gave figures to claim that existing and agreed applications meant Dorset was already at 97 per cent of the Government’s target for renewable energy production.

Speaking at the group’s annual meeting, he warned that the countryside was being industrialised, helped by subsidy from taxpayers.

He said: “If we build on too much agricultural land it will be at the cost of our landscape and food production.”

But guest speaker Mike Harries, Dorset County Council environment and economy director, disputed the figures.

He said his department’s estimate was that Dorset was between 35 and 55 per cent of the Government target, depending on how calculations were approached.

Mr Harries said more than 80 per cent of Dorset was protected by designations such as Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or Site of Special Scientific Interest, making development there unlikely.

Dorset CPRE chairman Dick Heaslip spoke of support given to various groups in the county in the past year on issues including opposition to windfarms in the Dorchester and Tolpuddle areas and to a large solar panel installation on the Drax family estate.

Other projects included collaboration on research with Bournemouth University and working on proposals to include parts of Dorset and Devon in a new National Park.

CPRE had also sponsored the best village shop category in the Dorset Community Action best village awards.

Mr Heaslip urged people to get involved with local groups as volunteers and to press councillors on issues that threaten Dorset’s landscape.

He vowed the organisation would continue to fight for what he described as “our magical landscape”.