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Concerns raised over plans for large solar farm

Solar panels

Solar panels

THE first solar farm could be built in the Havant borough – but concerns have been raised that it could affect unspoilt views of Chichester harbour.

Hive Energy has asked Havant Borough Council about putting solar panels on fields next to West Lane, Hayling Island.

The 46-acre site is part of Manor Farm, on the east side of West Lane.

The same company is on course to build one of the biggest solar farms in the country on a 200-acre site between Southwick and Denmead.

Solar farms are up and running in Fareham, Chichester and Lovedean, but this would be a first for Havant.

Steven Schrier, who lives in West Lane and sits on the planning committee of Chichester Harbour Conservancy, said: ‘The fields are outside the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty but in full view of its boundary which is the main road passing the Maypole pub.’

Frank Pearce, Hayling’s county councillor, said: ‘It would be almost impossible to screen such a large area.

‘It would affect Brent geese, which feed nearby.

‘A complete environmental study is vital. We can’t continue losing good arable land in this way.’

The park could generate enough electricity to power about 3,600 homes.

Tim Purbrick, commercial director of Hive Energy, said the solar park would increase biodiversity and provide havens for animals, including nesting birds.

He said: ‘The whole area would be sown with wildflower seeds and we are intending to create an apiary with at least 10 beehives.

‘Thick hedges would be planted along the boundary, using hedging material which is around 1.2m tall. Before long you wouldn’t even see the solar park as you drive past.’

A formal planning application has not been submitted, but Hive Energy has been told by the council an environmental impact assessment is not needed.

Ray Cobbett, from Havant Friends of the Earth, said: ‘I am really quite enthusiastic about it being the first solar farm. Havant is the only authority in this part of Hampshire that does not have one.

‘It would be enough panels to power well over half of the new houses which the council plans to build by 2026.’

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