Decision due on Bishop’s Waltham solar farm

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Community groups are objecting to plans for a solar farm that could power 5,500 homes with over 53,000 panels in Bishops Waltham.

NextPower SPV 12 Limited has applied to Winchester City Council for the construction of a 34-hectare solar farm on land at Locks Farm, Bishop’s Waltham.

The proposal, if approved, would provide a maximum of 12 Megawatts of alternating current to the grid which would supply enough energy for 5,500 homes every year.

It is estimated that the farm would have 53,333 solar panels which will either be black or blue.

The application has attracted many comments from local community groups including the Bishop’s Waltham Society.

It reads: ‘If one mentions that there are plans to build a solar farm on the outskirts of the town, there is normally a welcoming response to the idea – after all, most of us are pleased that someone else is doing something about climate change. And solar farms are widely seen as a “good thing”.

‘However if one goes on to say that greenfield sites on agricultural land are not amongst the government’s priorities in its intention to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050, there is usually a pause for thought and further enquiry.’

The Council for the Preservation of Rural England Hampshire (CPRE) added: ‘CPRE generally supports the principle of renewable energy, including solar energy.

‘However, in principle, we consider that solar energy arrays should be on brownfield sites, or on the roofs of large industrial or agricultural buildings, rather than on agricultural land; but where a countryside location is essential, an acceptable location within the landscape is essential.

Planning documents state the plans result in the introduction of an ‘important’ renewable energy project.

It adds that although it does not ‘wholly comply’ with policies of the council’s development plan, as it is adjacent to the grade II listed Locks Farmhouse, it was confirmed that the ‘harm is outweighed by public benefit’.

The application will be discussed by Winchester City Council’s planning committee on today. Council officers have recommended that it be approved.

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