THE biggest solar farm in Britain has been given the go-ahead.
Southwick Estates has got the green light to build a solar farm big enough to power up to 11,000 homes on 200 acres of land between Waterlooville and Fareham.
Nine out of 10 councillors on Winchester City Council’s planning committee supported the proposals which will see a loss of agricultural land which had been farmed by the Cutler family for three generations.
They will be compensated for the loss.
Councillor Therese Evans was the dissenting voice.
She said: ‘I was against it because I thought it was too large.
‘I fear it will set a precedent because they are taking up so much of a farm.
‘It will be visible from Portsdown Hill and it depends on what view you think is negligible or not.
‘I feel you have to be very careful about setting a precedent for a lot of fields. There are three which are currently being used successfully for agricultural farming, and have been for generations.
‘Although I see the importance of renewable energy, I do still think it is important to retain agriculture as much as possible where it’s viable.’
Pressure group the Campaign to Protect Rural England, also objected to the plans but Neil Cutler, the current tenant farmer of the land, off Belney Lane, Southwick, said he supports the solar farm and will work with the estate and Hive Energy to ensure its success.
And Ray Cobbett, the Hampshire co-ordinator for Friends of the Earth, said it’s about time the area started taking renewable energy seriously. It is another step on the long road to sustainable energy resources in south Hampshire and we welcome it,’ said Mr Cobbett.
‘Within The News area, with the exception of Havant, places such as Fareham, East Hampshire and Chichester have taken important steps.
‘A calculation has to be made as to the best use of the land and that is down to the landowner and the local planning authority.’
The current largest solar farm in the UK is at Wymeswold Airfield in Leicestershire, at 150 acres.
Giles Redpath, the chief executive of Hive Energy said: ‘We are delighted to be working with Southwick Estate on this prestigious project.
‘We are both committed to creating one of the UK’s largest solar parks which will be almost invisible from public areas, will support local ecology, will increase biodiversity and will deliver much-needed green electricity into the Portsmouth area for the next 25 years.’