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Fareham council boss hits out at plans for huge solar farm

ANGRY Councillor Sean Woodward, leader of Fareham Borough Council

By Chris Broom
Published in the Portsmouth News on Saturday 15th September 2012

FAREHAM’S council leader has hit out at plans to build the UK’s largest solar farm in the borough.

German renewable energy firm IB Vogt wants to build the massive facility – which would produce enough power for 14,000 homes – at Newlands Farm, east of Meoncross School, Stubbington.

But Fareham Borough Council has the land earmarked as a strategic gap – to prevent existing communities from turning into one large sprawl.

Cllr Sean Woodward, the leader of the council, called for full consultation on the plans and said: ‘This is a shocking proposal that I am sure will be of great interest and concern to residents of Stubbington and south Fareham.

‘It would represent the loss of a significant area of countryside which forms a strategic gap between South Fareham and Stubbington.

‘There are many issues that the council as the local planning authority will need to take into account if a planning application is submitted next month including, but not limited to, the environmental impact – positive in terms of power generation and negative in terms of the presence of thousands of solar panels, public views across the site and agricultural land that would be lost from cultivation to name just a few.’

In a letter to the council, Debbie Marriage, a senior consultant for Parker Dann, planning consultants for IB Vogt, wrote: ‘We believe this is a very exciting development for Fareham.

‘Indeed if the proposal attained planning permission it would be the largest solar farm in the UK and the second largest in Europe, something which we believe Fareham could rightly be proud of.’

Miss Marriage also claims it will bring job and economic benefits during its construction and in ongoing maintenance.

She said the panels would be put on long racks on poles, so the ground below remains intact.

‘This will then allow planting of grass and flowers so it can be used to graze animals.

The company is also proposing to include bird and bat boxes, as well as providing pedestrians and cycle paths.

It is intending to submit the application next month and hold an exhibition in the area, with details to be announced soon.

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