Andover-based renewable developers, Orta Solar, has received planning permission for five multi-megawatt solar farms in the south of England totalling 40MW of new capacity.

Commenting on the news, Nick Pascoe, Orta Solar’s Managing Director, said: “I’m thrilled for our team who have worked so hard for this success. It represents another 40MW of UK Solar Farming in sensitively chosen locations working closely with our terrifically enthusiastic farmer partners.”

Of the five approved solar parks, four are currently being commissioned: Hatchlands Farm in Devon, Rudge Manor Farm in Wiltshire and two Shipton Bellinger Solar Farms in the Test Valley. The fifth project, located in Wiltshire, will be completed later this year.  

“We’re aiming to develop approximately 100MWp or 12 Solar Farms in 2013 /14 and similar the following year”, said  Pascoe.

“However, unlike some of the more ambitious UK solar farm developers we do not build a pipeline of potential solar farms with farmers tied into multiple year exclusivity contracts, often finding that their project is ‘land-banked’ in a static queue whilst the developer seeks money or other resource to cover the development costs. Every project that we take on we sign a 12-month exclusivity contract with, no longer, and we get straight on with developing it. If it takes us any longer, we’re not doing our job correctly.”

Orta’s recent successful solar farm applications mean that the company has received planning permission for more than 20 solar farms representing almost 150MW of capacity.  

The company said that the installation of a solar farm has numerous benefits for a farmer. The company maintains that the installation of a solar park on low-grade agricultural land allows the site to ‘rest’ from intensive agricultural practices, benefitting local flora, bird and insect life.    

The announcement shows that large-scale solar in the UK is continuing to perform strongly after DECC’s announcement that large-scale solar developments will be eligible for an RO rate of 1.6ROCs from April, 2013.