Farmer 'devastated' by eviction from family farm to make way for 70,000 solar panels

Report by ITV News Meridian's Mike Pearse

A farmer from Wokingham says his family has been left devastated after being given notice to leave the farm they have lived on for more than 50 years, so the land can be turned into a solar farm.

Andrew Lake keeps more than 380 cattle on the farm at Barkham, but says he has been informed by Wokingham Borough Council that plans are being considered for 70,000 solar panels to be installed on the land.

The panels would take up an area equivalent to more than 90 football pitches.

The council says it wants the solar farm as part of radical measures to deal with the climate emergency.

Library picture of a solar farm Credit: ITV News Meridian

Mr Lake currently rents the land from the council. There have been various council agreements but currently the notice period is a year which Wokingham Borough have given. 

However, Mr Lake says communication over the plans has been poor and a year is not enough to find an alternative to house 380 cattle and a business dating back to 1967. He also says the land should be kept for farming. 

Andrew Lake says the land should be kept for farming Credit: ITV News Meridian

Wokingham Borough Council want to spend £20 million on the scheme.

The solar farm would be in place for a minimum of 25 years and earn the council half a million pounds a year from the energy sold.

Mr Lake's year long notice period ends next month but he is not sure when he will have to leave.

That may not become clear until the council make a final decision on the solar farm next month.