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Petition handed in to support solar farm

By Kimberley Barber
Published in the Portsmouth News on Thursday 31st January 2013

A GROUP of staunch green campaigners has handed over a petition of more than 200 signatures backing a proposed solar farm.

Gosport and Fareham Friends of the Earth gathered outside the Civic Offices in Fareham to ensure the names were given directly to council officials.

If given the go-ahead, energy company IB Vogt will put 200,000 solar panels on 58 hectares, making the solar farm one of the largest in Europe.

Friends of the Earth is in favour of the development on 123 acres at Newlands Farm, which sits between south Fareham and Stubbington, and believes the farm will make Fareham a green leader.

Supporter Esme Vivian organised the petition, which saw members knock on doors and take to the streets to collect 212 signatures.

As the group handed over the petition, another person stopped to sign taking the total up to 213.

Mrs Vivian said: ‘It’s interesting because we have the same number of people from Gosport and Fareham in support of the farm, even though Gosport Borough Council has come out as being against the farm completely.

‘In general, the majority of the people I have spoken to have been sympathetic to the solar farm. It is always people who object who go to the effort of writing to the council. Those who are in support think “that’s OK” and sit back and let things go ahead.

‘It is such a wonderful opportunity and will really put Fareham on the map.’

The site has gathered hundreds of comments, sent into Fareham Borough Council for consideration.

Supporter Norman Pasley said: ‘We are making a substantial effort to make people aware of the need for solar energy. There’s an ever-growing need for solar energy and this is a chance for Fareham to get the renewable energy that it requires.’

Some people have raised objections to the solar farm saying that by allowing the development it would pave the way for further housing development on the land which is part of the strategic gap.

Some are concerned that it would also prevent the building of a Stubbington bypass, which would potentially alleviate traffic congestion between Fareham and Gosport.

Campaigner Tim Pratt said: ‘In one breath people are saying that they want to save the green belt, in another they are saying save the green belt but build a bypass.’

Supporter John Vivian, added: ‘The bypass will never happen, the council put a stop to that 12 years ago.’

Fareham Borough Council will hold a dedicated planning meeting on Thursday, 14th February to decide whether the solar farm should go ahead.

Mr Pratt said: ‘We have been assured that by handing in the petition now, the views will be taken into account by the council at the decision meeting.’

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