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Large renewable energy plant mooted for Dorset Council land

More than 12,000 comments were submitted by businesses and residents as part of the consultation on Dorset Council’s Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy.

This strategy, the council’s blueprint for becoming a carbon neutral authority by 2040, explores a number of topics including the construction of a large scale renewable energy installation on council-owned land.

The document, part of a public consultation which ended earlier this year, will help form Dorset Council’s decisions and policies for years to come, civic officials say.

Included is an idea to construct either a 30MW wind turbine farm, or a 60MW solar farm, to meet the council’s energy demands.

Last year the Echo reported how a 49.9 MW solar farm near the village of Spetisbury, given planning permission by Dorset Council, would have 95,000 panels and the capability to power the equivalent of 15,000 homes.

However, the City of London corporation, the governing body of the Square Mile, has signed the power purchase agreement to buy all of the electricity from that site.

The Government’s Climate Change Act sets a clear target for net zero carbon emissions by 2050, but Dorset Council wants to achieve carbon neutrality a decade before that deadline.

Cllr Ray Bryan, Dorset Council’s member for the environment, said: “The Climate and Ecological Emergency Strategy consultation was a great success, with more than 1,500 responses and over 12,000 individual comments.

“We are now working through the data and will take the results, alongside our final strategy and action plan, to cabinet in early April for approval.

“It is clear that the Climate and Ecological Emergency must inform the council’s decisions and actions for the foreseeable future.

“This strategy will directly and indirectly affect virtually every service we deliver and will require a shared commitment and ongoing dialogue with our residents and partners.”

Topics set out in the council’s strategy include energy generation, transport, buildings, waste, water, natural assets, economy and food and drink.

Aside from the large renewable energy site, other ideas include maximising renewable energy opportunities in all of the council’s buildings – by converting heating systems to hydrogen-ready hybrid heat pumps, and every building having the maximum number of solar panels installed.

The strategy also suggests that as a planning authority the council actively encourages renewable energy development.

It also suggests the upgrading of Dorset’s housing stock, reduction of the county’s waste and the expansion of its public electric vehicle charging network.

On the overall document, Cllr Bryan said: “This work is incredibly important. Just sitting by and letting others address this crisis is not an option.

“We need to work together to overcome this monumental challenge.

“What we all do – or don’t do – to address this climate and ecological emergency will impact our children, grandchildren and every other generation for centuries to come.”