A BOURNEMOUTH solar farm which has become the biggest in the UK is now meeting the electricity needs of three-quarters of the town's homes.

Chapel Lane Solar Farm, at Parley on the outskirts of Christchurch, cost £50 million to develop and covers 310 acres or 125 hectares.

The area is the equivalent of 175 football pitches or just under 5,000 tennis courts.

The farm uses photovoltaic (PV) panels capable of directly converting sunlight into electrical current.

It is able to generate 51.3 megawatts (MW) of low carbon 'green' electricity when operating at full capacity, making it the UK's largest solar farm. The previous holder of the title was the 48MW Southwick Estate Solar Farm near Fareham in Hampshire.

Managing director of Parley-based developers Eco Sustainable Solutions, Trelawney Dampney, said: "I am very proud that our vision to create a solar farm providing clean, green energy has been realised.

"On a typical summer's day the Chapel Lane Solar Farm is now meeting the electricity needs of 60,000 households or three quarters of homes in Bournemouth.

"We have managed to achieve that at minimal disruption to our neighbours while still keeping the land for sheep grazing.

"This has been a real team effort but it shows that it is possible to create a sustainable business while also helping out the planet at the same time."

The PV panels are ground mounted on racks angled at 30 degrees and between 0.8 metres - or 2ft 7ins - and 2.9 metres - or 9.6ins - high.

Their height allows the land to still be used for agricultural use, specifically grazing.

The solar farm began operating in 2014 and is expected to operate for approximately 25 years.