Hampshire solar park secures planning green light

James Murray

Invitations for tender expected for new 37MW solar farm as planning approval granted

Welborne Solar Limited has been celebrating this week, after the developer secured planning approval for a proposed 37MW solar park on land within the Southwick Estate, between Winchester and Portsmouth.

Winchester City Council passed a resolution to grant permission for the plans at a meeting on Monday and the company is now planning to move forward with its efforts to appoint a contractor for the project.

Welborne Solar Limited - a partnership between Mark Thistlethwayte, owner of Southwick Estate, and Hampshire-based solar park specialists, Hive Energy - said it would now welcome invitations for tender, with a view to delivering a fully operational solar park by the summer.

"As part of our strategy to keep Southwick relevant in the 21st century, we continue to try to embrace the best of new technologies within our stewardship of the estate," said Thistlethwayte. In response to heightened demands for renewable energy, and in light of proposals for additional homes in the locality, it seemed a responsible and appropriate decision to move these plans forward in conjunction with our colleagues at Hive Energy."

Giles Redpath, chief executive at Hive Energy, said the project would deliver one of the largest solar farms in the country, while ensuring that the development remained "almost invisible from public areas".

In related news, solar developer Lightsource Renewable Energy yesterday announced plans to create 100 jobs in 2014 and revealed that it is to launch a "Solar Roadshow" to promote both solar technologies and related job opportunities.

The company, which currently operates 80 solar farms in the UK, employs 160 staff, but is looking to add a further 100 roles over the course of this year. It added that 25 positions are currently available, including roles for engineers, office professionals and asset managers.

"Solar power is one of the UK's fastest growing industries," said Nick Boyle, chief executive of Lightsource, in a statement. "Our goal is to have as many people involved in this positive, low carbon sector as possible. Whether it's benefiting from land rent, fixed price electricity or working to build the farms, there are opportunities to be part of this exciting change in the UK's economy."

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