THE threat of cricket balls smashing into solar panels was given as a reason for opposing plans for a solar farm in Oakley.

Oakley Parish Council’s planning committee discussed Hive Energy’s intention to create a 13-megawatt peak solar farm on land south of Oakley Park, adjacent to Oakley Cricket Club.

But Oakley councillors have said they object to the green business scheme, which would feature 52,000 photovoltaic solar panels, being taken any further.

Councillor Margaret Burgess said one resident had raised concerns about the close proximity of the site to the cricket club, and said: “What happens when the cricket balls go over the fence? Cricket balls go high.”

She added: “I’m against the whole thing. I don’t like it, and I think it’s ugly.”

The proposed development would be constructed and operated on a 40.6-hectare site at Park Farm.

Hive Energy anticipates that the farm, consisting of photovoltaic panels laid out in rows, would generate enough energy for around 3,900 homes.

Cllr Wendy Gavin said she could see no benefit to Oakley from the development, adding: “We have no problem with this sort of energy at all, but the fact that the site is behind the cricket club means the construction is going to be phenomenal. It will be just like the one on the Tadley road but much bigger. The access to it is the big issue.”

She highlighted concerns about heavy goods vehicles travelling to and from the site during construction.

A planning application has not yet been submitted but Hive Energy is expected to submit plans in the summer.

The firm’s request for a scoping opinion marks the start of the planning process, and seeks the local authority’s view on whether an environmental impact assessment should be submitted with the future planning application.

An environmental impact assessment aims to protect the environment by ensuring that a local planning authority knows the effect on the environment from a future development when making a decision on a planning application.

Tim Purbrick, commercial director at Hive Energy, said: “The site is pretty much hidden and there are no houses that look into the site. It is a good solar site. We are at the early stages and have yet to put in a planning application.

“It will be great for the Basingstoke area, and it will provide so much energy for the community.”

If Hive Energy is granted permission to build the solar park, construction is expected to start in spring 2015, and the development would be fully operational and exporting electricity to the National Grid by summer 2015.