Planners have approved a major solar farm in the Hampshire countryside.

Around 50,000 panels are set to be erected on three fields between Alresford and Bishop’s Sutton, near Winchester.

The city council’s planning committee voted seven to three in favour after hearing that the solar farm will not be visible from most places so would have little impact on the landscape. It would be more than 300 yards from the nearest house.

However villagers from Bishop’s Sutton spoke out against the proposals, concerned about the ‘industrialisation’ of the countryside.

Parish council chairman Aileen Miller said: “Solar parks should not be built on greenfield sites or inappropriate parts of the countryside. The need for renewable energy should not override environmental protection, and the minister Greg Barker has directed planners to turn down such applications.”

Another villager, Martin Henderson, added: “I support solar farms. There is a right place and land off Whitehill Lane is not the right place. The size is disproportionate to the location and it will harm the character and appearance of the countryside.”

The planning permission will be for 25 years and the land will not be re-classified as brownfield. If the solar farm is removed, it must be returned to farmland, currently farmed by Western Court Farm.

Cllr Kim Gottlieb asked if granting permission would create a precedent for other local applications.

But Julie Pinnock, head of development at the council, said not, with each proposal being considered on its merits.

“I don’t think it would set a precedent if it was allowed here,” she added.

There is currently another proposal for farmland at Itchen Stoke and a large one at Southwick near Fareham. Smaller solar farms have been erected on former landfill sites at Funtley and Shedfield.

Applicants Beta Solar say the 2,108 solar arrays, each with 24 photovoltaic panels could generate power for between 3,500-5,000 homes.

There were 26 objections and four letters of support including Alresford Town Council.

Mark Candlish, for the developer, said in 20 years’ time solar would be the cheapest form of energy.