PEOPLE living close to the proposed site of a huge new solar farm hope that it will prevent further development for at least the next 25 years.
The land is designated by Fareham Borough Council as a strategic gap, preventing it from significant development in a bid to stop the area from turning in to one continuous urban sprawl.
Members of the public got their first chance to have a look at rough plans for the 123 acres at Newlands Farm, which sits between south Fareham and Stubbington, at an exhibition yesterday.
And German renewable energy firm IB Vogts hopes that if it is given the green light, the UK’s largest solar farm could be up and running as early as next spring.
The company will rent the fields from the landowner on a 25-year lease.
Chris Hubbard of Westfield Avenue in Fareham visited the exhibition at Neville Lovett School and said: ‘It’s a win-win, it’s a no-brainer.
‘I like the idea that they will put the sheep on there and have the footpaths so it won’t be shut off to the public.
‘It’s a good way of keeping the gap. There have been lots of rumours about what could go there, but this way if they want to put housing there at the end of the lease, they can take it all out and go with that option.’
Jane Tredgett of Fort Fareham Road in Fareham, added: ‘It’s a better idea than having hundreds of houses in there. Whilst we do need houses, we also need energy and this is a better use of the land.’
However Mike Pengelly of Mays Lane in Stubbington sounded a note of caution. He said: ‘Solar energy is a good thing, and I don’t have any objections to this,
‘But the only thing that sticks in the back of my mind is whether by allowing this strategic gap to be developed, even in this way, could be the thin end of the wedge.
‘It could open other gaps up to possible development.’
Anton Milner, managing director for IB Vogts, came from Berlin for the exhibition and to answer questions.
He said: ‘It’s great that there’s already this interest and the most important thing for us here is to get a barometer of local feeling.
‘It has been very positive.
‘We always get three groups of people: a small group of undecided people who want to inform themselves, the largest group is of people who are generally pro-renewable energy, and then another group who are religious about nuclear energy, and it’s very hard to change their minds.’
IB Vogts is aiming to submit a full planning application before the end of the year. If given permission it will take about three months to build.