A MASSIVE solar farm – six times the size of the biggest in the UK and the size of 150 football pitches – is being planned in North Cornwall.
Renewable electricity firm Good Energy, which operates the Delabole wind farm, is seeking to site up to 135,000 photovoltaic panels on 224 acres of farmland near Week St Mary, west of Bude.
It says the scheme could reduce the energy bills of local residents.
A meeting has been organised by concerned members of the public in the Week St Mary Village Hall this evening at 7.30pm.
The development would occupy land on five separate farms and is currently in the early stages of the planning process.
It would dwarf the UK’s current largest solar farm – 28,000 panels on a 37-acre site at Marley Thatch Farm, near South Brent, which was approved earlier this month.
Some of those living near the proposed site are already steeling themselves for a lengthy planning battle.
Teacher Pauline Smeeth said: “I’m extremely concerned for the wider community. What they’re proposing is massive. It’s very worrying.”
Ed Gill, head of external affairs for Good Energy, based in Chippenham, Wilts, said the scheme was in its very early stages and the company planned to engage with local residents.
“At the moment we’re carrying out what is in essence an environmental impact assessment,” he said. “We haven’t decided on the size yet, and whatever we do will be in consultation with the local community.
“Our company has always consulted extensively with communities and offered people the opportunity to benefit from whatever’s put forward.
“One idea we may want to explore would be a local electricity tariff, which would reduce energy costs for local people.”
The land being assessed is adjacent to Little Exe Cottage, whose owner Neal Moxon has lodged an objection.
“Apart from ruining the natural habitat of the varied wildlife in this tranquil, unspoilt area, this proposed development would have a very considerable negative effect on the value of our property,” he said.
German firm Kronos Solar is in talks with another North Cornwall farmer about installing a 25mW solar farm on 120 acres of land at Maxworthy, near North Petherwin.
Cornwall already has 12 solar farms and 24 more have permission.
The largest of these have a capacity of about 5MW, enough to supply about 1,000 homes.
A spokesman for Good Energy stressed the plans for Week St Mary were in the “very early stages”.
“We want to engage with the local community … as we do with all our other projects,” he said. “We want to get as many members of the community on board as we can and take their views into account.”
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