RESIDENTS in a rural community say a second solar farm in their community would have a "most disturbing" impact on nature on the Somerset Levels.

Gerhard Hattingh is among a number of local people opposed to plans for the panels and an energy-storing facility at Redlands Farm, on Nythe Road, Pedwell.

Mr Hattingh hopes to promote a challenge to the development on 132-acres of "fertile farmland" near Ashcott.

He said: "This will be one of the largest solar farms in the country and will dominate the local landscape.

"When combined with an adjacent existing solar farm it will have an even more adverse cumulative impact, prominent in the landscape and highly visible.

"No amount of 'screening' will conceal the intrinsic change in the landscape from entirely rural to semi-industrialised.

"While we firmly support the principle of renewable energy, we cannot understand why it should be located in an area of national interest – the Levels are well known as a home to many bird species, deer and other wildlife, and the inevitable impact on the natural environment is deeply concerning.

"With one solar farm already located on the site, there is already an impact on the movement of animals in and across the area.

"So, while the size of this proposed solar farm is a concern, it is the impact on nature which is most disturbing."

Representatives of Elgin Energy held a public meeting on Thursday (April 7) to outline the proposals.

It claimed there was a chance for everyone to "actively engage, comment and shape the evolution of this project" ahead of a planning application being submitted.

A spokesperson said: "The proposal will contribute to local, regional and national energy-generation targets in a clean and resourceful manner and has the capacity to power approximately 12,000 homes annually.

"The proposal will also result in a net positive gain for local biodiversity through the introduction of trees and hedgerows, ecological corridors and wildflower planting."

They claimed that the solar farm would offset over a million tonnes of CO2 during its lifetime.

Installation of the solar panels would take approximately 16 weeks.

Once in operation, sheep farming would be able to continue on the site.