Stubbington solar farm ‘will save land from development’

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THE firm behind an application for what will be the UK’s largest solar farm say that it will safeguard the land from development for the next 25 years.

A planning application for the 140-acre site at Newlands Farm has been submitted to Fareham Borough Council.

The proposals, by German firm IB Vogts, would create enough energy to power 14,000 homes through 4,166 arrays of solar voltaic panels, laid out in rows totalling five miles in length.

But concerns have been raised that the site forms part of the strategic gap between south Fareham and Stubbington, land which is protected from development by Fareham Borough Council’s local plan.

Debbie Marriage, senior consultant for planning agents Parker Dann, said: ‘This is not development in the way that it’s permanent or it’s housing.

‘It won’t close the gap in perpetuity, so for the next 20 to 25 years nothing else can be built there – in that sense it is protected.

‘A strategic gap is there to prevent coalescence between existing developments, but it is also to provide people with informal recreation opportunities, and I hope that people will see that those things won’t be compromised.’

Fears have been voiced by local councillors that it would take up space that could be used for emergency landings by planes from the nearby Daedalus airfield, and that sunlight reflecting on the panels would dazzle pilots.

But Ms Marriage added: ‘This is the kind of research we have to do. People come up with a lot of concerns and will say things like this, but we know that that’s not the case. We have looked at these concerns and we wouldn’t want to do anything that would prejudice development at Daedalus and in the Solent LEP.’

According to studies cited in the planning document, the panels used in the farm would actually be less reflective than grass and crops.

And according to Civil Aviation Authority guidance, there are no regulations that specify the need for enforced landing areas outside the boundary of any airfield.

No date has been set for the application go before the council’s planning committee, but it is expected to be early next year.