Devon solar farm 'size of five thousand tennis courts' approved despite opposition

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A solar farm the 'size of five thousand tennis courts' has been approved by councillors in Devon.

Up to 76,000 panels at the site in Torridge were recommended for approval by a slim majority despite widespread local opposition.

Officers say the impact on the landscape is acceptable, but locals fear it could turn the village into an industrial landscape.

The land in question is owned by a farmer who is the fifth generation to farm it. However, in two years, regardless of the decision made by the council, he says it would no longer be a dairy farm.

Those against the plans say it would mean food would have to be imported to the area instead of reared and grown there. Credit: ITV News

But Devon's council for the Protection of Rural England said the decision meant the loss of another of the county's farms.

"Cop 26 has just said we must focus on deindustrialisation, reforestation, and land regeneration," said Steve Crowther from the group.

"Pyworthy doesn't want it, and it's already got a number of operating smaller solar farms in its parish.

"In fact, one of the councillors here today said that when the last one was produced - which was a much smaller one, there was only one objection. That kind of says it all."

More than 200 residents also opposed the proposal saying the pasture would provide 1.5 million litres of milk. Those against the plan also added that food would have to be imported instead of reared and grown in the area.

"Most of us know that in the winter there is not much sun, very little electricity therefore from solar," local resident Christopher Darwin explained.

"The figures prove that solar is producing only about 10% of the renewable power."

The company behind the plan, Renewable Energy Systems, said the site has been halved in size to appease local people.

It also claims that once up and running; it will provide 12,000 homes with energy, provide £162,000 in business rates and provide jobs for the area. Both while it is being built and beyond.