Rampisham Down is a legally protected Site of Special Scientific Interest located near Dorchester in the county of Dorset, it covers 187 acres and is significant for its lowland acid grassland and heath that supports many specialist plants and invertebrates. This site has been largely untouched by modern agricultural improvements, and along with its unusually large size this makes Rampisham a nationally important place for wildlife. It would seem that the West Dorset district council does not agree however, seeing as how they have approved plans by British Solar Renewables to construct a solar panel farm all over it.
Yes, despite advice from Natural England, the Dorset Wildlife Trust and the council’s own planning officers this supposedly ‘protected’ site will no longer exist. The worst is yet to come however, because the council agreed this plan – despite a suitable alternative site being available which is not a SSSI or significant wildlife area! So either the councilors are morons or they deliberately wanted Rampisham to be destroyed – for some reason. This stinks of corruption, money or votes are probably involved in their decision and the whole scenario bears striking similarities with the development plans at Lodge Hill in Kent.
Renewable energies are important, vital even, to combating climate change and weaning the human race off of fossil fuels, yet it does not make a lick of sense to destroy natural habitat in the name of ‘saving the planet’. Solar panels do take up a lot of space, and obviously require unobstructed sunlight to work at optimum, but what about all those flat, south facing, man-made surfaces that are essentially custom made for solar panels – roofs? Is this a taste of the future? When the oil has run out and humans are desperately, madly sticking up wind farms and solar farms on every available bit of land regardless of its wildlife value in order to meet the energy demand? A quote from Simon Barnes comes to mind “We have become tourists on our own planet”, treating it as though we do not live here, as though we have no personal connection with it – as though it is no more valuable than a disposable camera.
To be honest though, it does not really matter what exactly is being built on Rampisham Down, the point is that West Dorset Council have approved its destruction; against everyone else’s advice and when there is an alternative site nearby. Perhaps they just want to be seen doing something ‘green’, perhaps they have a personal grudge against wildlife, perhaps they are being bribed or their families held hostage, or perhaps they are a bunch of brain-dead, balding pencil pushers having their mid-life crisis. Whatever is going on, it is wrong, as I write the Dorset Wildlife trust are appealing to Eric Pickles MP (Secretary of State for communities and local government) to call-in the decision and have it examined by an independent inspector, we can only pray (and/or write to Eric or your local MP if you live in Dorset) that Rampisham is saved from the jaws of injustice at the last moment. That is unless our main government is as corrupted as our local councils are regarding the protection of the environment (don’t be silly).