A proposal to build a solar farm the size of 106 football pitches near a County Durham village has come under fire from residents.
Fishburn Solar Limited has applied to build the 187-acre site on land in the village just 350m away from residential properties, as part of a local increase in renewable energy.
It says the site, to the south of Harap Road, was specifically chosen as it would be discrete in the landscape but several letters of objection disagree.
One resident said: “Solar farms should be located on already industrialised land, on roof tops or adjacent to motorways, not on productive agricultural land.
“Currently, it is an expansive tranquil landscape of open green fields with far reaching views which would be turned into a semi-industrial, utility-grade power complex, with fields of 3m high dark solar panels mounted on metal frames, communication building, storage building, inverters, transformers and high security fencing.”
The site is bound to the west by Fishburn Airfield, Spennymoor Clay Pigeon Club to the north west and a smaller solar development to the north east.
A new larger housing development is due to be built to the north west of Fishburn after receiving planning approval and will be located near the proposed solar farm.
A public consultation was held in June last year, in Fishburn Village Hall and was attended by 18 residents but the resident said the proposal has gone ‘under the radar’ locally, with the deadline for objections expiring on Monday, February 6.
“Large solar farms such as that being proposed for Fishburn have serious consequences for local wildlife and the proposed development won’t benefit the local community,” they added.
“A solar farm the size of the proposed development at Fishburn will cost millions of pounds and it is very unlikely that the site will ever be returned to its current agricultural use, therefore there is no weight to any claims that the development is temporary and will actually be reversed.
“It would be dreadful if these plans were passed without residents having chance to comment.”
Dianne Ellis, another nearby resident, said: “Visually the proposed solar farm looks bigger than Fishburn village. The scale of this is overwhelming. Something this size should be well away from where people live and travel.”
The proposal also includes new security fencing, CCTV cameras, an internal access track and underground cabling.
The planning application is due to be decided by Durham County Council later this year.