Proposals to install a 12MW solar farm near Berwick have been submitted to Wealden District Council for approval.

The applicant, Susenco, is proposing to install the solar farm on around 30.4 hectares of land near the village Wick Street.

In its application the solar developer confirmed that it had already secured a 33KV connection from the local DNO, UK Power Networks.

The development of solar farms has recently started to become a controversial issue in the UK due to the use of agricultural land. The planned Berwick solar farm will sit on grade 3 and 4 agricultural land – deemed poor quality by Susenco.

In order to address the concerns over the environmental impact of the solar farm, the developer is proposing to install a number of features to boost the site’s biodiversity, including a swift tower, log piles, insect “hotels” and perching posts for raptors. In addition, the site will retain its agricultural use through the grazing of sheep.

The Solar Trade Association recently published 10 Commitments for solar farms that called on developers to focus on biodiversity as well as encouraging the continued grazing of livestock on solar sites.

Susenco is also proposing to use the solar farm as a learning tool for local schoolchildren by incorporating an outdoor classroom, viewing platform and interpretation board.

Commenting on the proposals, one local resident wrote in support of the scheme: “Climate change demands that we move towards renewable energy and I would love our community to pioneer the hosting of solar power. The developers are going a long way to address local concerns – they are open and flexible, and willing to listen. In addition, the community stands to benefit from a substantial income, with which it would be possible to do good things locally, such as helping households to become more energy efficient and possibly to bulk purchase solar energy systems for their own homes. The income could help kick start a cascade of further benefits.”

However, another local resident expressed their “wholehearted disapproval and objection” to the proposed solar farm. The resident continued: “Is is a violation of an area of historically established agricultural land set amidst pastoral scenery and well-kept farming acreage and would bring absolutely nothing by way of value to this area; rather it would seriously damage and spoil a huge tract of land which will never be able to be re-instated whatever the so-called statements of projected use say.”