Solar farms have a very important role to play

COMMENT: Attraction will capitalise on the riches in our midst

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At the moment, it’s 35 acres of arable farm land. But if Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd has its way, this patch of Hampshire countryside near Waterlooville will be covered in solar panels.

The company claims that the solar farm at Lovedean would generate enough electricity to power 1,670 homes – most of Horndean, Catherington and Lovedean.

They are figures that cannot be ignored. Because we need to come up with ways to achieve the government’s target of 30 per cent of the UK’s electricity being generated from renewable sources by 2020 – and we’re only at 5.5 per cent.

Green energy is still in its infancy, but new solutions to our power requirements have to be found.

We get a lot of sunlight in this part of the country and that’s why renewable energy firms want to put their panels here to harness it.

There are already solar farms at Oving, near Chichester and Fawley, near Southampton, while a German firm wants to build one in Fareham. Other sites are being looked at too.

It’s a growing technology that is not as obtrusive as wind farms, with their rows of turbines dotted across the landscape or at sea.

There is understandable concern locally over what the proposed solar farm at Lovedean will look like, with a series of panels mounted on frames that are almost 10ft high.

To harvest the sun’s rays, they have to be visible.

We agree this must be considered by East Hampshire District Council. But this is a fairly remote area that is not near homes.

Plus solar farms are not permanent structures that cause any lasting damage to the environment. As Ray Cobbett from Hampshire Friends of the Earth says: ‘When new technology comes along, these installations can be dismantled and the countryside returned to its former glory.’

We simply cannot ignore the importance of finding different ways of generating electricity in the future. It powers our world and is central to daily life.

Solar farms may not be the whole solution – but they can definitely play an important role.