CARBON payback, traffic woes and a potential ‘bribe’ were just some of the issues raised at a public meeting regarding plans for a 80-hectare solar farm near Andover.

Dozens of residents, including borough and county councillors, met at Penton Village Hall on Monday evening to air their concerns and find out more about the proposal to build a solar farm which will cover almost one fifth of the Penton Mewsey parish.

The size of the development was one of the issues raised by those in attendance.

Other points raised included the burden of traffic passing through the area during the project’s construction, the loss of arable land that produces hundred of tons of food a year and a £15,000 ‘community benefit deed’ that could be paid to the parish council.

Plans for the facility were lodged with the borough council in December, last year. They outline a proposal, submitted by Intelligent Alternatives on behalf of solar investment firm NextEnergy, for an 80-hectare solar farm on land at Hatherden Lane.

James Jamieson, a planner at Intelligent Alternatives, fielded questions from residents. Also in attendance were Councillor Kevin Briant, vice chairman of Penton Mewsey Parish Council, and the parish clerk.

Mr Jamieson confirmed that NextEnergy would offer a ‘community benefit deed’ payment in the range of £15,000 to Penton Mewsey Parish Council, for the council to use to invest in the community. He said: “The offer is made irrespective of whether or not the parish council support or object to the application.”

One resident claimed – several times – that this would constitute a bribe. However, parish council representatives made assurances that legal advice would be sought before accepting any payment.

“If we took legal advice and that legal advice said that it’s okay to accept the payment then we as a parish council would consider it,” said Cllr Briant. “We are not saying we will accept it; we are not saying we will not accept it. We will take legal advice”. before we take any decision on if we will accept or not accept.”

Another resident, who wished not to be named, questioned whether the energy cost of the project would justify the eventual output.

He said: “When you talk about ‘green energy’ and ‘clean power’ you’re only looking at one side of the question.

“What you’re not looking at is the energy cost of this.”

He also questioned the logic behind building the facility on high-grade arable land, which he says is capable of producing hundreds of tons of food.

However, Mr Jamieson noted that “the carbon payback period is well within” the 40-year timeframe of the project.

The plans also note that the solar farm is expected to generate enough energy to power approximately 15,845 homes in the area annually.

Other issues were raised and there would have been more, but the meeting had to be closed just before 9pm.

Residents are still able to share comments objecting or supporting the application via the Test Valley Borough Council website.

Go to and search using the reference ‘19/03043/FULLN’.