FARMLAND in Tytherington is being targeted for a large-scale solar farm.

AEE Renewables hope to build 50,000 solar panels on land at Tower Hill Farm on New Road.

The nine megawatt farm could power almost 4,000 homes and save 5,590 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year.

AEE held a consultation in the village last Monday, June 2, explaining their proposals for the 60-acre farm.

Some 40 villagers attended the exhibition, but villager Mary Buck said not enough people had known about the event and the only information on the plans available in the village was a laminated sheet in the village shop.

She also raised concerns that plans were being rushed through to hit a deadline of March 31 2015, when changes to government tariffs come in.

AEE’s project planner Adam Banting told the Gazette the government had recently announced a change in the way subsidies are paid.

“We are getting our planning application in with a view to getting the project developed before the deadline," he said. "However we are not cutting any corners.

“We are managing the project within that date. The consultation was the first point of contact with the public.”

Mr Banting said 300 letter invitations had been delivered around Tytherington ahead of the meeting, with adverts put up in the village hall, shop, community noticeboard and on the parish council website.

Tytherington Parish Council clerk Gill Brooks said the proposals for the site had come as a bit of a surprise to the parish.

“I think some residents are a bit concerned about it and others are not,” she said. “There are some community benefits available under the core strategy.”

The benefit packages could consist of an annual parish council contribution of £7,875 for 25 years or a one-off payment of ten times the annual amount, putting forward just under £80,000 for a new community facility or scheme.

Developers are not obliged to offer community benefits for solar PV projects, just wind, so these would be offered on a voluntary basis.

Mrs Brooks added that AEE have sent letters out to the village and called the meeting and that the council would be discussing the proposals at their meeting on Tuesday, July 1.

AEE said Tower Hill Farm was a good location for a solar PV development as it had a connection to the electricity grid – with sufficient spare capacity – close by, consisting of relatively flat or southerly-sloping land and good access from the A38.

The farm is not in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and no trees or hedges would be removed for the panels to be introduced.

The developers plan to submit their planning application in mid to late July, expecting a decision around November, with construction getting underway shortly after if planning consent was granted.