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All-clear to build UK's largest solar farm in West

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: July 03, 2012

Solar panels
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The UK's largest-ever solar project is poised to arrive in the South West as the region continues to lead the way on renewable energy.

Planning permission has now been secured to construct a solar plant with nearly 30,000 panels on a Devon farm, in the country's biggest project to date.

South Hams District Council approved the plans for a 37-acre site across five interconnected fields at Marley Thatch Farm, near South Brent.

The 28,000 panels will be set upon nearly 1,170 support tables, with space to allow room for sheep to graze between them. The completed eight megawatt project should supply enough electricity to power 2,500 homes.

The council's decision letter said it had taken consideration of the "detrimental impact" on landscape character, the potential of setting a precedent for similar projects, and the change in use from agricultural land. But it did not consider these factors "overriding".

It was deemed that the application site "will not have a significant impact on the setting of Dartmoor National Park or the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty".

The council added: "The benefits of increasing renewable energy production in the South Hams have been carefully balanced against the concerns raised in forming this decision."

With the South West benefiting from some of the UK's highest levels of solar radiation, the ground-mounted panel sites will enable large amounts of solar energy to be produced.

The South West renewable energy agency, Regen SW, said solar power had grown significantly during the past year in the region.

Merlin Hyman, its chief executive, said: "We welcome large-scale projects coming to the South West. They are both secure and sustainable investments, with the potential to create jobs.

"Specific projects have created a strong brand for renewable energy, but we still have a long way to go to reach targets. Some of our elected representatives haven't yet realised the sea of opportunity to work with world-leading firms."

Independent renewable energy project developer TGC Renewables said it worked closely with the landlord and local authorities to develop the site.

Richard Buckpitt, the landowner of Marley Thatch Farm, said: "We had been looking to diversify the farm's income for a while, so taking the opportunity to develop a large-scale solar project made financial sense."

Rob Denman, TGC Renewables director, said: "This project is one of a number of large multi-megawatt schemes we have in development as we respond to the interest and demand from the farming community for renewable energy."

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  • Jim_Hunt  |  July 10 2012, 3:03PM

    Should anyone be interested in more details about the planning application for another large scale solar PV farm near Tedburn St. Mary, which was rejected by the Teignbridge DC planning committee yesterday in Newton Abbot, please take a look at - http://tinyurl.com/bmnvbla Jim

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  • MrClutterbut  |  July 06 2012, 9:58PM

    They don't need sun to generate electricity, just light.

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  • Pingu007  |  July 06 2012, 3:42PM

    But we've had no sun for, oh, two months now ... what would those 2,500 homes use to boil their kettles?

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  • Azriel22  |  July 06 2012, 2:57PM

    @ MrClutterbut 10-20 "And they're not ineffective. A great deal of power is generated by these things." But at a very great financial cost in subsidies eh?

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  • MrClutterbut  |  July 06 2012, 10:20AM

    And yet, nobody seems bothered by huge, ugly power stations pumping poisonous fumes and radioactive coolant into the environment. Get some perspective folks. And they're not ineffective. A great deal of power is generated by these things.

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  • MrClutterbut  |  July 06 2012, 10:16AM

    @davidpbrooks. Well, it says there's space to allow sheep to graze - as you quoted - so I'd imagine there's, you know, like, space between them and that's how the sunlight gets to the ground. Where the grass is normally kept.. Does that answer your question?

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  • BagginsAtSea  |  July 06 2012, 7:42AM

    There's a field full of these dreadful things by the rail-line on the way to Cornwall; Worse than the equally futile wind farms. The Planet-saving effect of all this nonsense represents virtually zero against what China and the Indian sub-continent throw up every day.

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  • Pentewan Sands  |  July 05 2012, 12:47AM

    As with wind turbines, people will start to react very angrily when they see the dismal impact these development have on the landscape. Ineffective and hideously expensive, they are a massive exercise in subsidy farming, paid for out of our energy bills.

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  • DavidPBrooks  |  July 03 2012, 8:03PM

    "The 28,000 panels will be set upon nearly 1,170 support tables, with space to allow room for sheep to graze between them." On what? The grass wont grow very well because it will not get the sunlight. Or are these panels see through?

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