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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Solar panel parks idea for Moota area

Plans are in the pipeline to build West Cumbria’s first two solar energy parks, just north of Cockermouth.

Green Switch Solutions has submitted plans for the parks near Bothel and on land at Kirkland Green, south of Moota Quarry.

They would house solar panels erected in rows not more than 10ft high.

The Bothel solar panel park would cover 72 acres and would deliver 14.4 megawatts of power.

The one at Moota would be on 28 acres and generate 5.6 megawatts.

Project manager Liam Kerr said that they expected to have around 5,000 panels for each megawatt of power produced.

Westnewton Action Group has already opposed the initial applications lodged with Allerdale council.

Green Switch Solutions has submitted a screening request to determine if environmental impact assessments would be needed before it submits its full plans.

The action group said the parks would create a cumulative impact and that wind turbines in the area should be taken into account.

Its statement said: “To have 29 hectares and 11 hectares of green agricultural land almost completely covered with shiny black plastic is going to create a very considerable visual impact.”

Green Switch Solutions said that the proposals would not have a significant effect on the environment.

It said technology enabled solar parks to be built further north after a similar solar farm was created in Somerset.

The firm was investigating whether the local infrastructure would support the farm as well as the costs associated with it.

The sites will still be used for grazing after installation but Mr Kerr said there were no further plans to build any more parks in the area.

A statement submitted to Allerdale council said: “Due to the panel height not exceeding the approximate height of three metres the visual impact of this proposal on the wider landscape will be limited, particularly when considering the surrounding hedges and trees that will be retained.”

Mr Kerr added: “The solar park doesn’t have any visual impact compared to wind turbines.

“When we built an 80,000-panel solar park in South Wales some people didn’t even know it was there and you would have to climb on tops of trees or hedges to see it.”

Consultation for both schemes ends on April 26.

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