Plan for largest solar farm in UK met with approval

Managing Director of Hive Energy, Giles Redpath,  giving a talk to Friends of the Earth about solar farms and discussing the nearby Southwick Estate solar farm ''''Picture: Allan Hutchings (14191-087)
Managing Director of Hive Energy, Giles Redpath, giving a talk to Friends of the Earth about solar farms and discussing the nearby Southwick Estate solar farm ''''Picture: Allan Hutchings (14191-087)
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SOLAR energy needs to be embraced — those were the sentiments of a group who gathered to hear a presentation on proposals for the largest solar farm in the UK.

Giles Redpath, managing director of Hive Energy, the company behind the proposed 200-acre solar farm planned between Southwick and Denmead, gave a talk at the Havant Friends of the Earth annual general meeting held last night at the Crown Inn, in Emsworth.

He spoke about the benefits of embracing solar as a source of energy.

The solar farm – billed as the biggest in the country – will cost around £40m to build and will remain on the fields for 25 years. The company expects to start work this July and have the site fully operational by the following July.

Mr Redpath said: ‘Climate change is possibly the most important issue facing the world today and we have our children and grandchildren to think about when we face this issue. It is an issue that the world is waking up to far too slowly.’

In December, Winchester City Council gave the go ahead for the site, which will supply energy to 11,000 homes.

Mr Redpath was keen to allay any fears. He said the panels did not produce any noise or light, would not interfere with any nearby electrics and that the company would not be using any chemicals on the land to kill weeds.

He said the company would be employing somebody to manage the ecology and that the company would restore hedgerows to promote wildlife.

Mr Redpath also spoke of future solar energy projects that could see car parks turned into solar panel sites, with cars parked underneath the panels, and a project which could utilise the vast expanse of the world’s deserts.

After the talk, Friends of the Earth coordinator Sue Holt said: ‘We are extremely pleased to see this plan has got the go ahead. Solar needs to be used as part of a range of energy sources. It is a clean, unobtrusive source of energy.’

Ray Cobbett, from Havant Friends of the Earth, said he hoped Havant Borough Council would follow Winchester’s lead.

Cllr Mike Fairhurst, who represents the Barncroft ward for Havant Borough Council, was at the presentation.

He said: ‘It was very interesting. I thought I would come along to find out more to see if we could possibly do something like this in our borough.’