Plans for huge solar farm at Michelmersh unveiled

First published in Romsey

PLANS have been announced for a solar farm in a Test Valley village capable of supplying nearly 6,000 homes with electricity.

A public exhibition on the proposals at Michelmersh will be held in the village next Tuesday.

Solar Planning is behind the scheme on farmland next to Michelmersh Wood, on the northern outskirts of the village and the company says the proposed 19.5 MWp solar farm on the 88-acre site will only be in operation for 25 years, after which the land will revert to agricultural use.

The company is not disclosing who the landowner is at the moment.

Around 67,000 solar panels are proposed on the site, which is classified as grade three agricultural land.

The panels will be no higher than 2.5metres above ground level and there will be space between for vegetation to grow, says the firm.

A Solar Planning spokesperson said: “The proposed solar farm will make a significant contribution to helping the UK meet its targets for renewable energy and will save thousands of tonnes of carbon.

“Through additional hedgerow planting and the creation of wildflower-rich grassland, the farmland will increase biodiversity on and surrounding the site.

“Once operational, the proposed solar farm could generate enough clean energy to power some 6,000 homes, with CO2 saving of more than 8,300 tonnes per annum.”

The company has put leaflets about the proposals through letterboxes of 328 homes in the Michelmersh and Timsbury area and also written to the parish council.

Neighbouring parish councils and both Test Valley Borough Council and Hampshire County Council have also been notified.

Asked why the Michelmersh site was chosen, the Solar Planning spokesperson added: “This is a very good site for a solar farm. It will have very limited visual impact and is not particularly productive agricultural land.

“The site is very well secluded and not visible from any public viewpoint. Local villagers will not benefit directly from the farm, but Solar Planning will be in discussion with the parish council to discuss a community benefit fund as part of the development.”

Michelmersh and Timsbury residents will be able to view the proposals at the Jubilee next Tuesday, between 3pm and 7pm, during a public exhibition of the proposed scheme.
 

Urging villagers to go along, founding partner of Solar Planning Limited, Adriano Satto, said: “The exhibition is open to the local community, who we look forward to welcoming and hearing their views on the project. The solar farm will provide a natural source of renewable energy and help the UK meet its renewable targets.”
 

Parish council chairman, Bob Davis, said: “People will have to judge for themselves whether it will have a significant impact on the landscape. They need to look at the full details of what is planned and then make a judgement.”
 

Mr Davis added that the parish council would take into account people’s views when it discussed the plans.
 

Solar Planning is hoping to submit a detailed planning application to Test Valley Borough Council next month and it says if the scheme gets the green light, building work should start in the summer.
 

Borough planning officers are currently scrutinising a controversial scheme to build a 225,456 solar panel farm at Houghton on a 200-acre site owned by Test Valley councillor, Danny Busk.
 

The scheme, which if approved will be Britain’s biggest solar farm, was submitted by German green energy giant, Kronos Solar Projects. It’s not known when the scheme will be debated by borough councillors.

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