A MAJOR international energy firm wants to build Europe’s second biggest solar farm in Hampshire .
Up to 14,000 homes would be powered by the facility, which could be built at Newlands Farm as early as next year if planning gets the nod.
The renewable energy company IB Vogt says there would be enough racks of panels to create 47 megawatts of electricity, making it the biggest solar panel in the UK.
A spokesman for the firm said colleagues had remarked on the uncanny resemblance of the layout to the Schnauzer breed of dog, which originated in Germany in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The proposal has already been labelled “shocking” by the leader of Fareham Borough Council , who said it would result in the loss of a “significant” parcel of countryside.
But if plans get the go-ahead, the first solar panel could be installed this spring.
IB Vogt is preparing to launch a major public consultation and submit a planning application within a month.
The spokesman said: “We believe this is a very exciting development for Fareham.
“Indeed, if the proposal attained planning permission it would be the largest solar farm in the UK and the second largest in Europe, something of which we believe Fareham could rightly be proud.
“In addition to the environmental benefits, the scheme would deliver a number of economic benefits. Jobs would be created during the construction of the solar farm and some of the materials would be sourced from the UK.
“Ongoing employment opportunities would exist as the panels would need to be maintained and kept secure.”
With the panels raised above the ground on pole foundations, the fields would be sown with grass seed and grazed by sheep once the solar farm was up and running.
Wildflower meadows would be planted around the farm, while bird and bat boxes would also be installed, along with access for pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders along new nature trails.
Cllr Sean Woodward said the plans, which cover an area the size of 50 football pitches, were bound to cause debate in the surrounding communities and called for “meaningful consultation”.
He told the Daily Echo: “This is a shocking proposal that I am sure will be of great interest and concern to residents of Stubbington and south Fareham.
“It would represent the loss of a significant area of countryside which forms a strategic gap between south Fareham and Stubbington. “There are many issues that Fareham Borough Council as the local planning authority will need to take into account if a planning application is submitted next month, including – but not limited to – the environmental impact, which is positive in terms of power generation and negative in terms of the presence of thousands of solar panels, public views across the site and the grade of agricultural land that would be lost from cultivation.”