Tory MP’s solar farm plans face judicial review

A Tory MP’s plans to cover 70ha of his farm estate with 112,000 solar panels will face a judicial review.

East Dorset District Council granted permission to South Dorset MP Richard Drax to build the huge solar farm – the size of 110 football pitches – on his family estate.

Developers Good Energy said the scheme at Charborough Estate near Mapperton, Dorset, would generate enough power for 600 homes.

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However, Good Energy failed to complete an Environmental Assessment.

Opponents said the council therefore did not have enough information to make an informed decision about the environmental impact the scheme would potentially have on the area.

A judicial review has been scheduled for 1 May at Bristol Crown Court to decide whether the project will go ahead as planned.

A spokeswoman for Charborough Estate referred all comments on behalf of Mr Drax to Good Energy.

In a statement, Good Energy said: “Mapperton is an excellent site for a solar farm. The council’s planning officer recommended our application for approval, and the planning committee approved it and it is disappointing that the process of building the solar farm is being interrupted by this claim.

“Judicial review is a challenge to the way in which a decision has been made, rather than whether the conclusion reached is right or wrong. It is concerned only with whether the right procedures have been followed.

“We have submitted a response to the claim and the court has issued a date for the hearing.”

More than 500 people, including the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), have objected to the scheme.

The CPRE has raised concerns about building such a large solar farm on a greenfield site.