ONE of the UK's biggest solar energy farms could be built on the outskirts of Christchurch if planners give the green light.
Solar Power Generation Ltd has applied for permission to build a 118 acre farm on land owned by Eco Sustainable Solutions at Parley.
The area involved is the equivalent of 65 football pitches or just under 1,900 tennis courts.
The £15 million scheme will use photovoltaic (PV) panels capable of directly converting sunlight into electrical current.
It will generate approximately 20 megawatts (MW) of low carbon 'green' electrical power, meeting the electricity needs of about 5,000 homes.
Currently used for turf cultivation, the Chapel Lane site has been specifically chosen for its screening with established hedgerows or woodland surrounding the proposed farm.
Trelawney Dampney, Eco's managing director, said an open day in September to showcase plans for a renewable energy park, including the solar farm, had met with a positive public response.
He added: "Parley Solar Farm will be one of the biggest in the UK, offering a low carbon, renewable energy source.
"Climate change is the biggest issue facing the world at the current time. The establishment of Parley Solar Farm will represent a small step towards meeting the UK government's commitment to reduce carbon emissions by 20 per cent by 2020."
The PV panels will be ground mounted on racks angled at 30 degrees and between 0.8 metres and 2.9 metres high.
Their height will allow the land to still be used for agricultural use, specifically grazing.
If approved, the solar farm will take about six months to build and, once commissioned, will operate for approximately 25 years.
Solar Power Generation Ltd builds, operates and maintains large-scale solar PV parks across the UK.
It has completed the development of 26MW solar projects with work currently underway on a further eight schemes, each generating in excess of 5MW.
Founded in 1994, Eco employs 50 people and has an annual turnover of £10 million.
The company owns and operates the UK's leading purpose-built site for organics recycling and renewable energy generation, currently processing 250,000 tonnes of organic material each year across four facilities.
Parley Solar Farm will form part of an integrated renewable energy park which will also include anaerobic digestion and biomass facilities.