Joining in the race for the first solar farm in the UK, Bristol-based Green Company has revealed plans to lease approximately 400 hectares of land in the Holsworthy area of Devon to cover with solar panels.

The company has already investigated the possibility of installing on 50 acres and is now talking to more landowners after recent presentations in Holsworthy and Hatherleigh. Successful leases will be for a minimum of 25 years and could be as much as £2,000 per hectare, per year.

Green Company Energy Generation Director Roy Amner said, “I am still working on expressions of interest from people wanting to lease us their land. We hope to develop more than 400ha as solar panel farms.”

Amner continued, “There are no other solar farms in the UK and we aim to submit planning permissions in the spring and if we get approval the first panels would go up in 12 months.”

For each hectare the Green Company rents it says it will donate £500 a year for the life of the lease to communities within two miles of each solar farm. “The money would fund projects like village halls or support community projects or those helping people, or providing amenities for youngsters,” explained Amner.

Torridge branch chairman of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England Penny Mills is less enthusiastic about the plans,

“We are not against renewable energy in the right scale but covering acres of land with solar panels will drive tourists away, affect wildlife and ruin the nature of the beautiful countryside here.”

However, the PV panels would be on frames 60 to 70cms above the ground, allowing farm stock to graze underneath them. Based on the potential plants of this kind hold, owners of land at Bladdon Moor Cross and Burscott Farm, near Holsworthy; Glebe Farm, Hollacombe; Eastacombe Farm, Clawton; Great Knowle Farm, Pyworthy; Haddacott Moor, near Torrington, and at Barnards House, near Holsworthy, have agreed, or are in the process of agreeing, outline lease deals.