Council approves solar panels in East Northamptonshire

A solar farm with some sheep. The solar panels will cover two fields near Islip

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Plans to install more than 21,000 solar panels in two fields in east Northamptonshire have been approved by district councillors.

The solar park will be created in open countryside to the west of Islip.

The site is expected to generate enough electricity to supply 12,000 homes.

The approval is subject to certain conditions including coating the solar panels to reduce glare and fit in with the surroundings.

The company behind the project, Wirsol Solar UK, already has a contract to provide solar panels for council buildings in Corby.

Managing director of Wirsol Solar UK, Peter Davis, said: "We are really pleased that it has been approved. We worked with council officers to make sure that the plans complied with the rules and regulations."

Councillor Gill Mercer said: "We all have to do our bit to produce renewable energy. This solar park is an environmentally friendly way to do this."

The company also has a landscaping plan to thicken vegetation around the panels so that they fit in with the environment.

The land is expected to continue to be used as a farm, and sheep will be allowed to graze around the solar panels.

"Only about 25% of the field will be covered with solar panels and the sheep are our maintenance team because they keep the grass nice and short," said Mr Davis.

Wirsol has a 25-year lease on the land, after which the panels will be removed and the land will be free for agricultural use.

The company now plans to get the solar farm up and running by late summer 2011.

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