Lightsource Renewable Energy has announced that it is investigating installing a 6.5MW solar farm at a local farming business near Yelverton, Devon.

A key aspect of the proposed solar farm will be the role in which the solar development could play in boosting local biodiversity. Lightsource’s proposals include new hedgerows as well as the seeding of a wild flower meadow.

The UK’s largest solar developer is planning on installing the solar farm across 16 hectares of land, with rows of solar modules set within the historic field boundaries. Lightsource’s proposals even include a series of ‘mammal gates’; small openings in the fencing which surround the solar farm to allow small animals to leave and enter the site without restriction.

Lightsource’s planning and development director Conor McGuigan commented: “The diversification of farmland with solar is a tried and tested solution for us, and we believe that when it is done responsibly it is a revolutionary way to generate clean, locally produced energy whilst retaining the land’s agricultural use and supporting local farm businesses.

“The proposed solar farm area represents only 18% of the farm’s total land space, so the current farming of maize and sugar beet for biofuel will continue undisturbed in the surrounding fields.”

The company will be undertaking an extended consultation with the local community in order to refine the proposed plans. As a result, the company will be holding a meeting at Alpington Village Hall on 13 November to hear local views on the proposals.  

McGuigan explained why community consultation is so important for solar projects, he said: “Opening channels of communication with the community is a vital part of our planning process. We hope that residents will come along to the information evening in Alpington to find out more about our proposal and give valuable, local input which will help us to refine our plans.

“There is no statutory requirement for an event like this, but we do it to ensure our final design is the best it can be, for both us and for the community, before we submit a formal planning application.”