THE BIGGEST solar farm south Warwickshire has ever seen could be built on Stratford’s doorstep.
A planning application was put in this week for a proposed 50MW site at Drayton Manor Farm, which could be large enough to power more than 14,000 homes – or the equivalent of the entire town.
Designs for the 96 hectare site off the Alcester Road – roughly the size of 100 football pitches – include the installation of up to 200,000 solar panels.
The site was previously used by DEFRA for research – including the housing of animals with BSE between 1998 and 2006.
But after becoming surplus to requirements, it was bought by the Wood family, which own farms in Worcestershire.
Although the land is not classed as greenbelt, the family maintain it cannot be used for any kind of farming, which would enter the animal or human food chain, for the foreseeable future.
And director Stephen Wood said renewable energy was the way forward.
He told The Observer: “Solar farms with capacity of 50MW are rare in the UK and the land is ideally suited given the restrictions on agriculture, power lines crossing overhead and the energy demands of a growing Stratford.
“The government and district council encourage renewable energy and this will greatly contribute to the generation of renewable energy in the district.”
But while he is not against renewable energy, Lib Dem councillor Peter Moorse has raised concerns over the scale of the plans.
He said: “This would be a huge development on the edge of town.
“Solar energy has an important contribution to make but it’s difficult to see how 200,000 solar panels will fit in to such an area – surely we can find sites that don’t intrude so heavily into the countryside.
“The edges of the town seem to be creeping ever outwards and this would just add to the impression of urbanisation.”
The application is currently undergoing a period of public consultation and is unlikely to be considered by a planning committee before June.
*A DECISION on plans to build a solar farm in Claverdon has been put on hold.
Developers Berty 003 claimed the 7.5MW site at Park Farm – roughly the size of 16 football pitches – would provide renewable energy to around 1,300 homes each year and be mostly screened from view.
But the plans divided villagers with some arguing the farm – made up of around 29,000 panels – on greenbelt land would be a massive eyesore.
And on Wednesday (February 18) members of the planning committee opted to carry out a site visit before making a final decision on the application, which had been recommended for refusal.