An Amport solar panel array will be allowed to vastly increase its operating life despite the objections of the parish council.

The array, based at Lains Farm, was initially approved back in 2015, with power generation beginning the next year. At the time, a condition of the planning was that after 25 years, the panels were to be removed “and the land restored to its former condition.”

However, its operators, Lightsource BP, had applied to Test Valley Borough Council to extend this to 40 years back in May. They said that though solar panels gradually degrade over time, an assessment had shown that “it would be technically and economically feasible to operate ground-mounted PV [photovoltaic] projects for a period of at least 40 years.”

Amport Parish Council, however, objected to the proposals, saying that there was a “lack of detail and reasoned argument on why this application should be approved.”

They said that the “prematurity” of extending permission from 25 to 40 years would “lessen control of this site and maybe forgo advances in technology or controlling poor behaviours and lack of maintenance, for example.”

As a result of this objection, the plans were brought to TVBC’s Northern Area Planning Committee for a decision. Responding to Amport Parish Council’s objection, TVBC noted that the site would have to be decommissioned if it did not produce power for a whole year.

“This would mean that if solar energy were to become redundant, the installation would not necessarily remain on site for the full time limit,” the council’s background report said. “As such, it is considered that this condition recognises future technological advances so that should such technology not produce electricity for 12 consecutive months, the site must be restored back to agricultural use.”

The plans were recommended for approval by TVBC, which subsequently voted to grant planning permission for the solar array’s extension.

Amport Parish Council was contacted for comment.