PLANS for two more large solar panel farms are in the pipeline in Oxfordshire.
A planned 145-acre power plant near Grove could be put up just north of the new Crab Hill Estate. The other, 106-acre plant would be on green fields north of the A417 in East Hendred.
The Grove scheme would, if approved, be the biggest in the county – even larger than another 120-acre development proposed for Besselsleigh. But while the developers have trumpeted the merits of the main scheme – which they say would be eco-friendly and hidden from view – campaigners are angry about what is being planned.
The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) said the Grove development would turn the green fields into an “industrial unit”.
Oxfordshire director Helen Marshall said: “We are concerned at its proximity to the Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal and nearby rights of way.
“CPRE Oxfordshire believes renewable energy is a good thing, but not at an unacceptable cost to the countryside.
“There are thousands of roofs and industrial buildings that can be used for solar panels before we need to start building all over our valuable agricultural land.”
Wantage mayor Fiona Roper said about the Grove plan: “It sounds like a bit of an eyesore. I don’t like the idea, if it was very prominent.
“It wouldn’t add anything to the surroundings.”
Another, 71 acre solar farm is already under construction nearby in Hill Farm, Steventon.
The Grove plant would generate enough electricity to power 6,000 homes which the company behind the scheme, Aton, says could be used to power some of the 1,500 Crab Hill houses.
Aton manager Nicolas Martin said: “This is a site we have been working on for a while and we are still approaching the local community now.
“The good thing about this site is there are lots of trees around and it is not visible from anywhere there.”
The solar farm would only last for 25 years, and then be dismantled and the site restored to agricultural use.
Mr Martin said the firm would look to put in a planning application in the new year.
The owners of the land in Grove, Elms Farm, refused to comment until an application had been submitted.
Orta East Hendred Solar submitted a planning application to Vale of White Horse District Council on November 27 and a decision could be made on February 26.
East Hendred parish councillor Charles Pappenheim said: “The parish council takes a positive but cautious view of these planning applications, which have the potential to make a useful contribution to electricity generation with minimal carbon dioxide production, no noise such as is produced by wind turbines, and zero production of radioactive or any other waste.”