Councillors have voted in favour of a proposed 40MW solar farm on the Southwick Estate, just north of Portsmouth.

At a meeting of the council’s development control committee, councillors voted seven to three in favour of approving the 82-hectare development proposed by Hive Energy and Welbourne Solar Ltd.

The planning application was reported to the committee due to the number of objections received which ranged from the need to preserve agricultural land for food production, to construction traffic concerns.  

The developers had revised the plans slightly to help mitigate impacts of the site on matters of archaeological and ecological importance and agreed that the planned landscaping activities would minimise visual impact as well as provide wildlife habitats.

The committee noted that the solar farm “would not result in adverse visual impact on the immediate wider landscape, including the setting of heritage assets, would not result in any detrimental harm on surrounding residential amenities and [would] not result in any significant highway or ecological implications.”

The solar farm, sited on grade four agricultural land, will generate enough renewable electricity to power 12,120 homes every year, negating the emission of 17,200 tonnes of CO2 in the process.

The approval of this 40MW solar farm is the latest in a string of multi-megawatt developments being built in the UK ahead of the cut to support in Renewable Obligation funding for large-scale solar developments in April 2014.