A SMALL Somerset village could soon be dwarfed by solar panels if plans for a new solar farm are approved.

Low Carbon UK Solar Investment has put forward proposals for an enormous new solar farm on the B3109 Bradford Road near the village of Rode, on the Somerset-Wiltshire border.

The new solar farm (dubbed ‘Bluebell Wood’) could provide enough power for one-third of all homes in the former Mendip area, or around six per cent of all properties in Somerset.

Somerset Council is expected to make a decision on the plans early in the new year.

The solar farm site lies to the north east of the village on agricultural land bordered by Bradford Road to the north and by Monkley Lane and Polar Tree Lane to the east.

The new solar panels will be a short distance from the Church Farm housing development at the village’s southern edge, and a short drive from the neighbouring town of Trowbridge.

The solar farm will be able to generate nearly 50MW of energy, with a battery energy storage facility being installed on site to store the energy during times of low demand and sell it back to the National Grid at peak times.

Somerset County Gazette: The plans for the solar farm.The plans for the solar farm. (Image: Low Carbon Solar Park 25 Ltd)

The developer claims the 74.33-hectare site (nearly 184 acres) will have sufficient capacity to power 16,000 homes – the equivalent of half the population of Frome.

A spokesman said: “The site predominantly comprises moderate quality agricultural land, and the proposed development would only temporarily remove around 2.7 hectares (nearly seven acres) of the most viable land from arable agricultural use for the duration of its operational life.

“The government has committed to meeting a legally binding target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This requires major investment in proven technologies, such as solar and wind, which is strongly supported by planning policy at local and national level

“The proposed development would help to address this need by generating clean and renewable energy without the need for subsidies.”

If approved, the solar farm and battery storage site will be operational for 40 years – after which time the land will be returned to agricultural use.

Somerset Council and its predecessors have approved numerous new solar farms in the last 12 months – including one on the B3098 Lodge Hill, to the east of Frome, in October 2022.

The council is expected to make a final decision on the Rode solar farm proposals in early-2024; however, it is not currently clear whether this will be taken in public by its planning committee east (which handles major applications in the former Mendip area) or through the delegated powers of its planning officers.