COUNCIL chiefs have approved spending more than £1m on a solar farm on country park land.

Eastleigh Borough Council wants to put 3,380 panels on land at Itchen Valley Country Park in West End.

Now council Cabinet members have approved spending £1.2m on the project, although planning permission is yet to be granted.

The solar farm proposal will go before councillors in March and the money is being put aside in the event of the plans being approved.

The scheme is part of council plans to reduce CO2 emissions by 50 per cent by 2020 and to produce more renewable energy in the borough.

A council report states that the project will take 12 years to pay for the initial start up costs and from then on to the next seven years it will bring in £130,000, dropping to £50,000 in its 21st year when Feed In Tariff payments stop.

It also says that the effect on visitors using the park would be minimal and the site should not be that visible.

Funded by the council and central government, the solar farm, off Allington Lane, would generate around 1,000kWh of electricity a year.

And it would save 570 tonnes of carbon a year, remaining in place for between 20 and 25 years.

Although the council has had 12 schemes for solar power since July 2011, this is the first time that the panels have been on the ground.