RESIDENTS are being urged to have their say on proposals for a controversial solar farm after the plans were put on display for the first time.

Energy company Solarcentury wants to create the facility on the outskirts of Lee, near Romsey, covering 86 acres of farmland on the Broadlands Estate.

The company says that the 57,000 panels could power more than 4,400 homes.

Plans for the Grove Solar Farm went on display at Woodley Village Hall.

Among the 20 residents who had a look at the plans was Conservative MP for Romsey and Southampton North, Caroline Nokes.

She said: “I think it is really important that we look at alternative sources of energy and solar is part of that. It is an interesting proposal and it is quite large.

“It is of critical importance that if schemes like this are to get planning permission they have to be in the right location and unobtrusive, and it is really important that they look at how it impacts the landscape.”

Victor Hemmings, 65, of School Road, Romsey, said: “I think on the whole it is a good idea. We should be looking at other methods of electricity.

"It is better than having it on people’s houses. It is outside of Romsey and so I do not think it is going to affect the town.”

The Broadlands Estate is owned by Lord and Lady Brabourne. It is the former home of Lord Mountbatten, covers more than 4,000 acres and is said to date back to the 10th century.

Broadlands Estate previously upset residents after announcing plans for a Tesco store on the grounds.

The planned solar farm would be among the biggest in Hampshire.

The largest one in the county may be built at Eveley Farm in Houghton, near Stockbridge, and would cover 200 acres, providing power to more than 31,000 homes.

Solarcentury has not yet submitted a planning application, but this is set to follow after a public consultation.

A company spokesman said: “The feedback received will be evaluated by the project team ahead of any planning submission.

“We were pleased with how the event went. It was nice to meet local people and hear the supportive and constructive comments about the scheme.”

Those who could not make the event still have time to comment on /grove-solar-park.