PLANS for a new solar park on land in Verwood have been given the green light.

The proposals, which will see the construction of a site covering 113 acres, with approximately 81,400 panels, were unanimously backed by East Dorset District Council’s planning committee.

The application for the park at Manor Farm in St Michael’s Road was submitted by Wiltshire-based Solstice Renewables.

Company director Giovanni Maruca said the site will generate enough energy to power the equivalent of 6,000 average houses – almost all of the homes in Verwood.

“We are very pleased with the strong level of support our plans received from both the local community and the councillors. They recognised the substantial benefits that this would bring locally, and that this was an appropriate development in the green belt, protecting the land for 25 years without excluding it in the future,” she said.

The panels will cover 85 acres, and the rest of the land will continue to be used for agriculture.

Solstice Renewables has agreed to provide a community benefit fund of £1,000 per MW installed capacity – likely to amount of £20,000 a year for 20 years, or £400,000 for the lifetime of the solar farm.

The company will also provide £2,000 per year to both Verwood First School and Emmanuel Middle School to fund field trips to the farm.

Representatives are currently consulting members of the public about another solar farm proposed for Bedborough Farm, near Wimborne, which would provide enough electricity to power 3,000 homes.

Giovanni said: “Dorset has developed its own local renewable energy targets and encourages community benefits, which is something we welcome.

“Bedborough is another good site for a solar park, being well screened, and can also help to make a meaningful contribution to Dorset’s green energy targets.”