30-acre solar farm scheme is unveiled
FARMER Dave Holpin is planning to harvest the power of the sun with the biggest array of solar panels in the Five Valleys.
His agent has asked Stroud District Council planning officers for their initial thoughts on the 20,000 panels which might be spread over 30 acres at Hill Farm in Frocester.
The south-facing panels would be expected to generate more than 4,500MWh of renewable electricity every year.
That would be enough to provide power for around 1,000 homes, his agent James Orme has told the council in an application for a formal screening of the idea.
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Mr Holpin preferred not to comment, Mr Orme said.
"We are at the beginning and it is at a very early stage," said Mr Orme.
The panels would be ground-mounted and livestock would, in theory, still be able to graze underneath them.
Electricity produced would be sold to the grid and Mr Orme said it would "provide a good source of additional income to the landowner over the 25 to 30 years of expected operation, particularly given the uncertainty in the future of the existing single farm payment agricultural subsidy scheme".
The Hill Farm site, at the bottom of Frocester Hill, is in the protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The district council's head of planning Phil Skill said national advice was that the use of renewable energy was encouraged, particularly solar panels as an alternative to wind turbines in the AONB.
Mr Holpin is chairman of Frocester Parish Council, which has yet to be formally consulted about the proposal.
District councillor Steve Lydon (Lab & Co-op), whose Stanleys ward covers Frocester, is in favour of alternative sources of energy.
He said: "However, I think a lot of the community will need to make sure they are happy with the size of this solar farm. It is a big one.
"I want to find out more and gain a greater understanding of what is being proposed."