A proposed large solar farm will be mostly out of sight and opposition will fall away once it's built, claimed the director of the scheme.

The 1,000 hectare (2,471-acre) West Botley Solar Farm, which would cover sites near Botley, Kidlington and Woodstock, would deliver enough energy to power more than 330,000 homes, said developers Photovolt Development Partners (PVDP).

Director and former energy trader Mark Owen-Lloyd said: "I think it’s a leap of imagination to see the fields like this when you look over a gate but I think the benefits outweigh the initial downsides."

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PVDP has launched the second round of community consultation which will run for 10 weeks until February 8.

It has published an environmental impact report as well as updated proposals after Merton College removed its Hall Farm site in Begbroke from the plans in October.

Mr Owen-Lloyd told the Oxford Mail the feedback from the first round of consultation "was as you would expect – don’t put panels near my house, is there really a need for this, and what’s the visual impact on the area of Oxfordshire where I live?"

But he said he questioned the level of local opposition.

He said: "I’ve spent the last year going around Oxfordshire, meeting people who we might work with or talking to people like Cherwell Collective and Cutteslowe Larder who are going to grow food on our site and others I was introduced to and on the whole they were either mildly supportive or not particularly moved either way.

"In the industry they are fully supportive, as well as the Green Party and the Lib Dems.

"Parish councils who are close by are not necessarily fully supportive.

"We've met Witney MP Robert Courts four times and he says that his constituents oppose this.

"And he gets the reason for renewable electricity and obviously his party, the government, has just produced a national policy statement that states that renewable energy is a critical national priority. So he has to tread a line between government policy and the views of his constituents."

Oxford Mail: Solar farm protesters out in forceSolar farm protesters out in force (Image: Contributed)But he added: "But there is a very strong air of ‘I have an electric car, I’m all supportive of renewables – can they build it in Suffolk? That’s probably the strongest message I get."

Mr Owen-Lloyd said the proposed facility was not too large but was the "ideal size".

He said: "Panels will be on 900 hectares total on a potential site size of approximately 1,400 so there will be about 450 hectares of mitigation area of woodland planting, wildflower meadows, grassland.

"I’ve always said to people in the events, what size would you say is the right size? To which I don’t really get an answer.

"It is this size because the costs of going through a development consent application is such and getting a grid connection and all the engineering involved means that this really is the ideal size.

"And also what National Grid needs is power stations which is effectively what this is.

"It’s all very well having a five megawatt like Southill near Charlbury but National Grid is closing most of its nuclear power stations and has closed all the coal stations or rather the owners have closed them so there is a shortage of generation.

"And the government has asked for 50 gigawatts of solar generation by 2035 so you’re going to see more and more large solar.

"There’s now one bigger than us in Nottingham, there’s a couple of others that are 600 megawatts, there’s a consented one in Essex that is 380 megawatts so you will see more of this and the system needs it."

Oxford Mail:

He said it was not in the wrong place and the site was appropriate as the solar farm would not impact on the setting of Blenheim Palace or Oxford city.

"You can’t see us from Oxford and you can’t see us from the World Heritage Site so actually there’s only one area on the lower road where you can see our panels from the road," he said.

"We’re growing more hedges - already we’re planting 30kms of new hedge, we’re planting about 15 hectares of woodland so actually once it’s built unless you are walking on a footpath through it of which there are three or four you won’t actually see it from the road.

"It sits within the fields. We’re using the existing field structure. There’s no disruption of any hedge or tree."

Critics such as Stop Botley West argue that roofs are a better site for solar panels than fields.

He said: "Roofs are a great idea but the problem is they won’t get us to 50 gigawatts. And also many, many roofs in the country wouldn’t have a group connection to take it away.

"The government should be mandating that every new build has it, every factory should have it but a large number of factories have tried to put it on their roof and there isn’t a local grid connection.

"One of the reasons we are where we are is because there is capacity on the line between Didcot and the city of Gloucester - you have to put these things where there is grid capacity to transport the power to the user."

Mr Owen-Lloyd said he thought PVDP was adequately compensating for the impact.

He said: "I think £900million investment in the local economy and energy infrastructure is a huge community benefit given that the grid in West Oxfordshire is at capacity and there is no large scale renewable generation in Oxfordshire being planned.

"One of the things that was said a lot in the first consultation was are we able to buy your power? As a result of that we’re setting up a retail electricity company, we will be able to supply people in Oxfordshire and we will give them a discount.

"We have also committed to a community benefit fund and we will also have two social enterprises growing fruit and vegetables on our land – Cherwell Collective and Cutteslowe Larder."

Another benefit was that the solar farm could protect the land from unwelcome development, he said.

"One of the advantages of putting solar panels on Blenheim’s land is that they can’t build houses," he said. "When the solar panels are removed in 42 years time it reverts to farmland – there’s no continuing consent for anything else.

"If I lived in Bladon I’d rather have solar panels in the fields than a large housing development but that’s for others to decide."

He said making money was "not our driving force".

"But Blenheim is a commercial organisation and I think within the law they should be allowed to manage their fields in the way they feel is best."

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Mr Owen-Lloyd, who has lived in Steeple Aston in north Oxfordshire, but now lives in London said he would be happy to have the facility on his doorstep.

"Absolutely I’d rather have this than Blenheim’s sprayers going because I’ve read our environmental report on the state of the land and the rivers and it’s pretty grim reading," he said.

"Every single river on site is chemically impaired even the Windrush, Glyme, Dorn, so I’d rather have this, absolutely."

He said: "I’ve been working on this now for three years so by the time we start generating in 2027 it will be a seven year journey as they say nowadays.

"We’ve got some very good people working on this – our retained consultants, our planners, our engineers in Berlin.

"If you look at the statistics on solar farms, opposition to them falls away rapidly after they’re built and start generating for the reasons I mentioned earlier that you don’t really notice them.

"It is a very admirable project that the country needs so I’m confident it will succeed."