NEARLY 10,000 solar panels are being installed on farmland in Monk Sherborne.

The solar farm is being built by Lightsource Renewable Energy at Hill End Farm, in Aldermaston Road, after Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council approved the company’s plans in December.

The 6.37-hectare site was an arable field of crops but is now being transformed into a 2.8megawatt solar farm, which will generate enough power for 806 homes.

The site, which can be seen from the A340 – the main road from Basingstoke to Tadley – will generate enough renewable energy to save around 1,375,220kg of CO2 emissions per year – the equivalent of removing 305 cars from the road each year.

Lightsource, which has installed solar panels on the roofs of over 100 schools in the UK, has been granted permission for a temporary solar farm.

At the end of its operational life, of between 30 and 35 years, all equipment associated with the farm will be removed, including associated infrastructure such as a storage shed, transformer units and substations.

A total of 9,450 photovoltaic panels are being installed at the site. They are 1.650m high and attached to mounted frames at an angle of 20 degrees, with a maximum height of 2.5m above ground level.

A two-metre-high security fence and CCTV cameras will also be installed to prevent theft and vandalism, and stop unauthorised access.

The electricity generated from the site will be entered into the local grid network and will be used at the closest points of demand, meaning that more of the electricity used by Monk Sherborne will be from a clean renewable source.

The plans were approved by the borough council despite objections from Sherborne St John ward councillor John Leek.

He told The Gazette: “I objected to it because I’m totally against ruining the countryside in the way that these schemes will. But I’m afraid everyone on the committee was in favour of it.”

He pointed out that the solar panels can be seen by visitors to The Vyne, who pass by the site as they turn into Morgaston Road, which is the main access road to the National Trust property. Cllr Leek added: “It’s not very attractive.”