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Plans for Merston solar farm get support

Planning

Planning

A SOLAR farm which could generate enough power for 3,000 homes has gained village support.

The proposed development would occupy 21 hectares of land in Merston, near Chichester.

Developers Wiltshire-based Solstice Renewables, held a consultation in North Mundham village hall in March to gauge the support of the community.

Giovanni Maruca, director of Solstice Renewables, said: “We were very pleased with how the Merston solar park consultation went.

“Overall, 70 per cent of people who left feedback said they supported the plans, and no-one objected.

“People seemed particularly interested in our innovative plans to develop a way of growing crops between the solar panels, 
so the site can be used both 
for food and energy production – something which has not been tried anywhere in the country.”

The company is also offering a community benefit fund of around £11,000.

The money would finance projects which would aim 
to bring economic, social 
and environmental benefits to the area.

The solar park would provide 11 megawatts of power – generating enough energy to power more 2,500 homes – and, if plans go ahead, will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 4,800 tonnes annually.

The company said it had been ‘looking forward’ to meeting members of the community and would ‘welcome’ their suggestions for how the scheme could be improved.

Denia Turnbull, chairman of North Mundham Parish Council, said the company provided an ‘interesting’ display.

“The people were very helpful,” she said. “We asked as many questions as we possibly could.”

Mrs Turnbull said the idea to graze sheep between the solar panels could be ‘used productively’.

The council has not yet commented on the plans, which are expected be put before Chichester District Council in next few months.

“We are particularly excited at Merston to be doing pioneering work with the landowner and Cirencester Royal Agricultural University on a contract research programme to identify the best crops to grow to make the most of the continued agricultural use of the park,” said Mr Maruca.

“As with all our solar developments, we will also carry out biodiversity improvements in the area around the park.”

The site, which is accessible from Pagham Road, comprises two agricultural fields and currently consists of open fields, polytunnels and greenhouses.

 

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