Rampisham Down in Flower: what British Solar Renewables don’t want you to see

I thought it would be a good idea to see how Rampisham Down was looking as we have had some good weather and the site had received some (not enough but a start) grazing in the winter to remove some of the “thatch” that had built up over the previous years of no management.

I was extremely pleasantly surprised to see that it was looking really lovely. The air was buzzing with the sound of bees and other insects, butterflies flitted across the grassland and there was a spectacular array of wildflowers.

Contrary to what the site owners, Solar Subsidy Farmers British Solar Renewables, want everyone to believe, Rampisham Down is not “severely damaged” grassland. Despite British Solar Renewable’s  front organisation Community Heat and Power’s claims about Rampisham Down (eg here) it was indeed possible to graze the site last winter; and this has done a power of good for the lowland acid grassland for which the site is so special.

Here are the photos I took earlier this week from the public right of way which runs along the southern boundary of Rampisham Down.

The yellow will generally be bird’s-foot trefoil though there is Tormentil too. White flowers include large sheets of Pignut, Lesser stitchwort and heath bedstraw. The red is common sorrel. I saw very little bracken on the southern half of the site, which is excellent news and completely at odds with the extraordinary claims made by Professor Ghillean Prance, a paid consultant acting on behalf of British Solar Renewables, at the planning committee hearing, who said that the site would quickly become covered with bracken.

 

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rabbit-grazed acid grassland in the south-east corner of Rampisham Down

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looking across the down towards the test solar panel array. If approved much of the acid grassland at Rampisham will be under these large panels.

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large carpets of bird’s foot trefoil adorn the sward at Rampisham. This is an important plant providing nectar for insects and also the food plant for the common blue butterfly

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one of the surviving radio masts attesting to Rampisham’s very important role in British broadcasting history. At one point Rampisham was the most powerful radio transmitting station in the world.

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Ladies bedstraw grows alongside Heath bedstraw, showing how Rampisham supports very rare “chalk heath” plant communities.

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A profusion of pignut flowers at Rampisham, joined by Lesser stitchwort and Heath bedstraw, each a different hue of white.

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bird’s foot trefoil growing on a bank at Rampisham

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These flowers will disappear if BSR gets their permission to cover most of Rampisham Down in solar panels

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a closer look at the sward showing Heath bedstraw and Pignut among a variety of different grasses and flowers

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Bracken is confined to the edge of Rampisham down, at least along the southern boundary. Management at this stage will ensure it does not spread across the acid grassland.

 

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About Miles King

UK conservation professional, writing about nature, politics, life. All views are my own and I don't write on behalf of anybody else.
This entry was posted in British Solar Renewables, community heat and power, lowland acid grassland, Rampisham Down and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Rampisham Down in Flower: what British Solar Renewables don’t want you to see

  1. wendybirks says:

    Well done to take the trouble to get the photos – I hope it helps with the campaign to stop the solar farm.

  2. Your knowledge of the biodiversity there must surely help. Looks an amazing meadow.

  3. Bob Ashworth (@bobinchiclana) says:

    I will never understand why solar farms should be built on green fields. The are 1000’s of acres of roofs and car parks,which could provide excellent sites.

  4. Pingback: Rampisham: the propaganda war begins | a new nature blog

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