18 Sep 2023

Solar Farm Plan for Leonardo Helicopter Factory in Yeovil

18 Sep 2023  by bbc   

Leonardo has been building helicopters in Yeovil for more than 100 years
One of a town's main employers could soon power more of its buildings through renewable energy if plans for a new solar farm are approved.

Conrad Energy has applied for permission to construct the solar farm on land south of Camp Road, West Coker.

It would be capable of providing power to the Leonardo Helicopter factory on Lysander Road for 40 years.

Somerset Council is expected to make a decision on the proposals before the end of the year.

Planning consultants representing Leonardo said the 40-acre solar farm would make a significant contribution towards efforts to reducing CO2 emissions.

"The land can continue to be used for agriculture, insofar as being made available for sheep grazing.

"Therefore, over the temporary term of the proposal the agricultural land is not lost, and following decommissioning, it can return to its favourable replenished state," a spokesperson said.

The facility is expected to supply about a quarter of Leonardo's energy needs and an existing public right of way through the site will be maintained.

Nearby resident Lesley-Anne Radcliffe said the risks surrounding the solar farm outweighed the potential benefits, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

She added: "Leonardo has plenty of roof space and car parking space to house these solar panels, but using farmland is quicker and cheaper for them.

"The people of West Coker deserve more consideration than this. We should be conserving valuable land for food production, particularly because of the war in Ukraine.

"We cannot lose any more land to solar farms in the south-west and our politicians should be actively preserving it for future generations."

South Somerset District Council approved plans in January for a solar farm on Pipplepen Lane in North Perrott - only a few miles from the West Coker site.

Leonardo Helicopters employs 3,000 people at its Yeovil site and the town was officially declared the "Home of British Helicopters" in August, with the slogan is being added to welcome signs.


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