Solar panel park proposal for Furness

PLANS are being drawn up for a huge south Cumbrian ‘solar park’ which would provide enough power for 2,500 homes.

If the scheme is approved, 50,000 photovoltaic panels will be installed on grazing land at Angerton Hall Farm, Kirkby-in-Furness.

The company behind the plan, Lancashire-based Greenswitch Solutions, said it would be its largest project to date – providing 12 megawatts of elect-ricity annually.

Solar parks generate green electricity from sunlight which can then be fed into the National Grid.

Under a deal with two Kirkby-in-Furness landowners, Green-switch will lease 64 acres of land – more than half of it owned by farmer Brian Thexton, who has run Angerton Hall Farm for 44 years.

Mr Thexton said the solar park would provide him with ‘a nice pension’.

“With farming as it is, making ends meet has been a struggle so this will be a very good way of diversifying,” he said.

“And because the solar panels are raised above the ground on posts, I’ll be able to continue grazing sheep on the land.”

Project manager Liam Kelly said Angerton Hall Farm would be Greenswitch’s 29th solar park and its largest by a long way. Its previous largest schemes have been five megawatts.

He welcomed Mr Thexton’s plan to continue grazing sheep if the solar park wins approval.

“It would save us the expense of having to cut the grass beneath the panels,” he said.

The solar panels would be no more than three metres off the ground to ensure they were not a visually intrusive form of green energy, especially when compared to windfarms.

“Most fields in England have large hedgerows which tend to screen the solar panels, making them not so noticeable” said Mr Kelly.

The 50,000 solar panels plan-ned for Angerton Hall Farm will each measure 90cm (three feet) by 1.6cm (five feet).

However, the development will be dwarfed by a solar park planned by German company Kronos for Hampshire’s Test Valley. It will have 225,456 panels, producing enough power for 31,500 homes.

Greenswitch has yet to submit a formal planning application for its Angerton Hall Farm scheme, but the company has asked South Lakeland District Council for a ‘scoping opinion’ to ensure that it complies with all planning requirements.

The company has already assured the authority that: * no levelling of the land will take place; * no lighting will be installed * no new access will be required to the site; and * no concrete would be used to anchor the panel posts

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