PLANS for a new solar park on land in Verwood have been submitted to the district council.

The proposals would see the construction of a site covering 113 acres, with approximately 81,400 panels, capable of generating enough electricity to power most of the homes in the town.

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

Company director Giovanni Maruca said: “We want to work closely with the local community, and have taken particular care to ensure the solar park will have a minimal visual impact on the area.

“The people of Verwood will benefit not only from renewable electricity being generated and used locally, but also from a dedicated community fund, as well as substantial educational and ecological benefits.”

If given the green light, developers say they will offer a programme of benefits for Verwood, including ecological improvements and £2,000 per year for Verwood First School and Emmanuel Middle School to fund field trips to the site and other educational resources. The land where the solar park would be sited has been farmed by the Dalton family for several generations.

It was formerly a dairy farm, but the family then switched to arable farming – mainly maize, for cattle feed.

Douglas Dalton, one of the landowners, said: “It’s poor quality land anyway, and it will continue to be used for agriculture.

“It will be grazed by sheep in the winter and will become a haven for wildlife in the summer.

“Like many farmers, we’ve suffered from the extreme weather of the last couple of years, so the income we get from the solar park will help spread our risks and help us become better farmers too.”

Full details of the application are available on the East Dorset District Council planning website, reference 3/14/0457/FUL Members of the public are invited to comment on the plans up to June 4.

ALTHOUGH large, the planned solar farm wouldn’t quite rival the size of one proposed for an estate belonging to MP Richard Drax.

The site at the Charborough Estate near Mapperton was given planning permission in November last year despite more than 500 objections from locals.

The plans cover 175 acres, feature 112,000 panels and generate enough power for 6,000 homes. In April, it was revealed that developers Good Energy would not contest a judicial review won by protesters.

A spokesman for the company said: “It is worth noting that the claim for the judicial review focused on the planning authority’s procedures and not the merits of the project itself.”