A solar development firm is working up plans for a new 72 acre solar park in rural Cumbria.

The plans by Green Switch Solutions, currently undergoing feasibility work, would provide 14.4MW of power via 77 rows of PV panels.

The developer has been told by Allerdale District Council that due to the scale and location of the development, it would need to carry out an environmental impact study into the potential effects of the scheme if a planning application is submitted.

A letter sent to the developer by council officers said: “The scale of the development would be a major development of more than local importance with a considerable and prominent presence within the landscape. The close proximity to and clear visibility of the site from the nearby National Park would result in the potential for a significant effect upon a sensitive landscape.”

The ruling came after local residents and the Westnewton Action Group, which was set up to oppose wind farm developments, suggested that the solar facility would be a blot on the landscape which would harm the tourist industry in the area.

The farm would be built on agricultural land which is partially set within an existing wind farm close to the village of Bothel.

In making its decision requiring an EIA, the council said that the site is in a sensitive position, just over a kilometre from the border of the Lake District National Park.

Quoted in a local newspaper, a spokesman for Green Switch Solutions said the project was at  an early stage but that it would consult with local residents during any future planning process.