Solar farm is approved on farmland

ENERGY from the sun is to be generated in Yapton.

The go-ahead for the village’s first solar farm has been given by councillors.

They agreed the proposal by BL Solar could be built on land south-west of Drove Lane Farm. The rows of solar panels will provide 14.5 megawatts of electricity. This is enough to supply some 30,000 homes.

Cllr Stephen Haymes (C, Yapton), told Arun District Council’s development control committee last Wednesday: “I’m quite happy with this proposal.

“Drove Lane is just a farm track at the end with deep ruts where the tractors have been. It is not the best place to walk down. But the county council said during the consultation period that the road will have to be made up to a certain standard. That will be better for walking in the future.

“Once the solar farm is built, there will not be many vehicles going down there.”

The proposed planting would eventually screen the solar panels, he said.

Cllr Ricky Bower (C, East Preston) said he would reluctantly support the scheme. “I do not like seeing farmland put to this use,” he said.

“I will go along with it on this occasion but it is an industrial use in the countryside. At least, it’s not a windfarm.” Cian Cronin, a council planning officer, said the proposed solar panels would be about 2.4 high and about 1m above the ground. They would be raised to 1.4m in two areas at risk of flooding.

“The solar panels are designed with an expected lifetime of 30 years and can be removed and the soil restored to its original condition after they have become obsolete,” he said.

The farmland could still be grazed by small lifestock once the panels were restored.

The solar panels would be have an adverse impact on the area, he said. Screening would have to be planted to limit their visual affect.