THOUSANDS of solar panels will be visible from The Ridgeway if a new energy scheme gets the go-ahead.

Farmer Adam Twine is planning to install the panels next to five 50m wind turbines which were installed on his land in the Vale of White Horse two-and-half years ago.

The wind turbines generate electricity for the National Grid and Mr Twine is planning to do the same with the solar panels.

But the Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England says it will oppose the move because of its impact on The Ridgeway, the historic track which follows the Downs across Oxfordshire.

Spokeswoman Dr Helena Whall said: “We opposed the wind turbines and we expect to do the same with the solar panels because of the visual impact on the landscape.

“People on The Ridgeway would be able see the sun glinting off the panels, which would cover a large area of agricultural land.

“We have only just found out about this so we will be trying to find out more details.”

Mr Twine, 49, who was the Green’s candidate for the Wantage constituency at the last General Election, plans to install the panels on land at Westmill Farm, Watchfield.

He said: “The panels would cover an area of between 10 and 30 acres and each one measures 2.5m high – there could be thousands of them.

“This is a £14m scheme I am working on with developers Low Carbon Solar Partners and Energy4All.

“The wind turbines generate enough electricity for about 2,500 homes each year and we expect the panels to generate electricity for 1,000 homes each year.

“The panels are not particularly tall but they will cover a large area and if you look carefully you would be able to see them from parts of the Ridgeway.

“I don’t expect this to be particularly controversial.

“I don’t think there will be a major impact on the landscape, but we do want to get feedback from the public.”

Mr Twine and his business partners are staging a public exhibition in Watchfield village hall on Tuesday to explain the plans in detail.

He added: “The proposed solar farm, as well as being a first for the county, is likely to be a first for the entire country as it is being designed to allow local people to be able to invest in and own part of the farm, like the Westmill windfarm co-operative.”

Mr Twine hopes to submit a planning application by the end of the year.

He said: “If we get the go-ahead we will start installing the panels in the summer of 2011, after the wheat and barley crops have been harvested.”

The exhibition at the village hall in Chapel Hill, from 3pm to 7pm, will include photo-montages of what the site would look like and feature some demonstration solar panels.

It will also have information about the co-operative scheme and people will have the chance to register an interest in the share offer.