A huge solar farm could be built on the edge of Dorchester that would provide enough power for 6,000 homes.

The 86-acre site is on the opposite side of Slyer’s Lane to a solar farm that was refused permission in 2014.

The new farm would contain more than 36,000 panels mounted in 3-metre high arrays.

The move has sparked fears that, if approved, it could help pave the way for the massive new housing development being eyed for the downs north of the town, which would be half as big again as Poundbury.

The 3,500-home scheme being put forward by developers Persimmon and Grainger has now been adopted as a Garden Village scheme, which requires sustainable development. A solar farm would help it meet the necessary criteria.

The 21MW solar farm would be in use for at least 40 years. The farm is being proposed by a Scottish company called Intelligent Alternatives, which has applied to Dorset Council for environmental screening, but has not yet put forward a full planning application for the site.

The original proposal for a solar farm on the east of Slyer’s Lane was rejected by the former West Dorset District Council. Planners said the scale of the development would “introduce an industrial character to the site… to the detriment of the local landscape character”.

An appeal by the developer, Wessex Solar Energy, was turned down by a planning inspector.

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