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Huge solar farm could be built in Waterlooville to generate power

By Jeff Travis
Published in the Portsmouth News on Thursday 27th September 2012

A HUGE solar farm could be built just a few miles from Waterlooville.

Plans are afoot to build solar panels on 35 acres of farmland south of Day Lane, Lovedean.

The solar farm would generate 5.7 megawatts of electricity – enough to power 1,670 homes.

The developer behind the plans, London-based Lightsource Renewable Energy Ltd, says it would generate enough electricity to power most of Horndean, Catherington and Lovedean, although the energy would be fed into the national grid.

The proposals have received a mixed response.

Dave Gorshkov, a member of Lovedean Residents’ Association, said: ‘Certainly 35 acres is going to be a challenge in terms of how it will look. You can’t hide them – by necessity they need to be open to gather the sunlight.

‘Secondly what impact are they going to have on the environment – on the green fields and also from the reflection from the panels?’

But Ray Cobbett, from Emsworth, co-ordinator for Hampshire Friends of the Earth, said: ‘When new technology comes along, these installations can be dismantled and the countryside returned to its former glory.

‘It’s not a permanent damaging thing. Nuclear, on the other hand, takes millions of years to get rid of the waste.’

The developer has yet to submit a formal planning application.

However, it has asked East Hampshire District Council whether an environmental impact assessment is necessary. Planning officials have said it is not because the site is in a fairly remote area.

A report states the static panels would be mounted on frames reaching almost 10ft high.

Officials at Lightsource Renewable Energy said the solar farm would save around 2,823,130kg per year of carbon dioxide that might be generated by a fossil fuel-burning power plant.

This is the equivalent to the amount of the gas generated from 750 large family cars driving continuously for one year.

Nick Boyle, chief executive, said: ‘Renewable energy sources and schemes such as this need to become an integral part of our domestic power output if we are to achieve the government’s target of 30 per cent of the UK’s electricity being generated from renewable sources by 2020; with the current figure in the region of 5.5 per cent, we have a long way to go in terms of the generation of green energy.’

He said a formal application was likely in the near future.

WELCOME TO THE SUNSHINE TRAP

THE south of Hampshire and West Sussex is part of a ‘sunshine strip’ that is being exploited by renewable energy firms.

As reported, German firm IB Vogts wants to build a 123-acre solar farm in Fareham and there are already established solar farms at Oving, Chichester, and Fawley, near Southampton.

The area’s popularity is no coincidence.

Hampshire, Sussex, Dorset and Kent are statistically the sunniest in Britain – with an average of 1,750 hours of sunshine every year.

Solar enthusiast Ray Cobbett said: ‘If you look at a map of sunlight and where are the most sun hours in the country, it comes in a strip from Kent, part of Sussex, south Hampshire near Winchester, and through the New Forest.’

Liza Gray, Lightsource’s communications manager, said: ‘The south of the country has more available light than the north and accordingly the more southern the site the better irradiation is available which results in a more efficient system on a site.

‘We do have other sites in the pipeline for Hampshire and West Sussex but these are at very preliminary stages and initial assessments.’

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