ONE of the UK's biggest solar energy farms could be built in Christchurch should multi-million pound plans be given the go-ahead.

Solar Power Generation Ltd has applied for permission to build a 118 acre – 48 hectare – 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 and forms one part of plans for a renewable energy park.

The £15 million scheme will use photovoltaic (PV) panels capable of directly converting sunlight into electrical current and is expected to generate around 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 been a positive exercise.

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,” he said.

The PV panels will be ground mounted on racks angled at 30 degrees and between 0.8 metres (2ft 7ins) and 2.9 metres (9 ft 6ins) 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.

Parley Solar Farm will form part of an integrated renewable energy park which will also include anaerobic digestion and biomass facilities.