Almost 600 solar panels could be installed at County Hall

Dorset County Hall
Dorset County Hall in Dorchester
How the panels might look (courtesy of Albion Planning & Empower Energy)

ALMOST 600 solar panels are expected to be added to County Hall as Dorset Council strives to cut its carbon footprint and save money on running costs.

They could generate almost 200kilowatts of electricity, saving 41,300kg of CO2 emissions in a year.

In all, the council is hoping to install 572 panels, most of them mounted on pitched roofs although some will be put on flat surfaces with frames to tilt them 10degrees from horizontal.

Larger south-facing buildings in the middle of the site, those with distinctive green roofs, have largely been chosen which will make the panels difficult to see from ground level.

It has been calculated that the County Hall roof area is 6,335 square metres and with the photovoltaic modules only covering 972 square metres, only about 15 per cent of the total.

None of the buildings on the three hectare County Hall site are listed although there are the remains of a Roman town house in the grounds to the north with the site of the town’s former Roman walls to the western edge of the site.

The site is within the Dorchester Conservation Area, although an outline of the application says that panels would not be installed on any roof which fronts a highway.

“The passive nature and small scale of the proposed development means there will be no significant adverse effects on the local community and it is considered that the installation of PV panels on the roof of the building will not adversely affect the visual amenity of the site or surrounding area,” said a statement from the council’s planning agent, Albion Planning, based in Worthing.

The agent believes that the panels fall within the scope of being allowed without full planning consent under current government development rules.

Work on the County Hall roofs is expected to be undertaken by Ringwood-based Empower Energy Limited which, the company says, has installed more the 40MegaWatts of commercial solar systems to date.

The prior approval documents are expected to be considered by Dorchester Town Council’s planning and environment committee next week for its comments with the application open to the public until October 10.

By Local Democracy Reporter Trevor Bevins

Woodmead Halls

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