Solar farm proposal to have its day in the sun?

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As villagers in the Brackley area deal with the prospect of a wind farm and high speed rail link, they are now contemplating the impact of a solar farm proposal.

A nine megawatt solar farm is being proposed for Bungalow Farm on Welsh Lane and could be capable of providing energy to thousands of homes. If given the go-ahead, it will be bigger than the Shacks Barn solar farm recently built at Silverstone.

Sofie Hatton, head of marketing at Green Switch Solutions, which is behind the proposal said the project was in its infancy and the company had only recently been approached by the landowner.

Last week South Northants Council’s planning department said the proposal would not need an environmental impact assessment.

Green Switch are still waiting to hear if it is possible to connect the solar farm to the National Grid before they move to next planning stage.

Mrs Hatton said: “If it becomes a permitted development we will of course engage with any concerned parties.

“Green Switch Solutions strives to make each development viable for the customer as well as the local community.

“We anticipate this site will make enough carbon free green electricity each year to power about 2,500 homes.

“This figure is dependent on various factors which may change within the planning and build processes and is based on current energy consumption levels.”

Green Switch also plan to speak to local conservation groups to find out how to best support wildlife during the life time of the solar farm.

She added: “Whenever we develop a solar park we retain the hedged borders and aim to cause minimal damage to the existing environment.

“Solar farms actively encourage and enable wildlife to thrive – being located in remote and fenced off areas that remain relatively untouched for 25 years, general operations and maintenance occur to maintain panel efficiency.

“At the end of the 25 years, the site can continue to produce renewable energy or be returned to its former state.”

Mrs Hatton added with farmers having had a difficult few years, they had seen a rise in inquiries from farmers across the UK.

Peter Burns, chairman of the nearby Helmdon Parish Council, which is backing a residents’ fight against a wind farm at Spring Ridge said although solar farms were intrusive he would prefer them over a wind farm.

> Newbottle Farm has also submitted plans for 624 solar panels to power their pig farm buildings between Charlton and King’s Sutton. Ian Pick who is working as an agent for the project said a 21,000 panel project in Hull did not attract a single objection.

The saga continues

Doubt still hangs over a solar farm near Silverstone. Despite the £6 million solar farm being plugged in and producing green electricity, South Northants Council’s planning committee refused retrospective planning permission after officers found the panels were built too close together. Developer Hive Energy Charlie Ltd are appealing the decision on the grounds it makes no material difference.