PLANS for a controversial solar farm between Fareham and Gosport will be decided next week.
Vogt Solar is proposing to build a 27-hectare site on land off Tanners Lane, west of Newgate Lane, Fareham.
The same company proposed to build a 58-hectare site – more than double the size – earlier this year, but withdrew its plans on the day of the decision as council officers had recommended it be turned down.
Since then, solar energy company Vogt Solar has held several consultations to gauge public opinion and reworked its proposals.
This time round, council officers have recommended it be approved.
The new plan, which sees more space set aside for wildlife, an improved footpath and a smaller number of panels, will be decided on at a special meeting held at Fareham Borough Council on Tuesday.
A spokesman for Vogt Solar said: ‘We have listened to members of the local community. We have worked hard to include their ideas from the public consultation and to make a plan which meets all these requirements.’
The solar farm has split public opinion, with some residents concerned for the erosion of the strategic gap between Fareham and Gosport, the safety of the panels and for the loss of agricultural land.
Other concerns include noise, fly-tipping and glare. The council has received 33 letters of objection. It also received 16 letters of support, which say the electricity produced – enough for 5,200 homes per year – is much needed.
Norman Pasley, from Gosport and Fareham Friends of the Earth, said: ‘We support the development. While some people are dismissive, or unsure, or admit they haven’t thought about it, other people understand that solar energy is clean energy, and, on balance, this solar farm makes sense.’
The group collected a petition in support of the application with more than 60 names.
Gosport Borough Council objected to the plans, saying it could affect the proposed £8.5m Stubbington bypass.
Two of the three potential bypass routes do not cross the new smaller site, one of the proposed routes does, although council officers are liasing with the company to find a solution, which will be made public at Tuesday’s meeting.
Gosport council said ‘improved access to Gosport should take priority over the location of the solar farm.’
The Fareham Society welcomed the reduction in size, but agreed it was premature to resolving the issue of the Stubbington bypass.
If approved, the panels will be there for at least 25 years.