A SOLAR farm which will supply electricity for 3480 homes has been approved by planners.
Last week members of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's planning applications committee gave the go ahead for the development at Lower Newton Farm, Draycott Road, Tean.
The solar farm will comprise of approximately 47,300 solar panels mounted in tables across 23 hectares of, at present, cultivated agricultural land. The tables of panels, 4.1 metre wide, would be laid out in a geometric grid of parallel rows, tilted at 25 degrees to face south.
The electricity generated would be exported to the National Grid and connection would be underground.
Both Draycott Parish Council and Checkley Parish Council have supported the application.
Speaking in favour of the development, planning consultant Robert Edwards, told the committee that farming would still continue at the premises.
He said: "The key decision on the site has been the connection and environment issues, including screening. The A50 and railway screens the area and the visual impact is accepted. Farming will continue on the site and the land in question is grade 3 which means there is not a loss of good land. Draycott Parish Council say it is well planned and recommend approval."
Councillor Mike Bowen said that the plan had been well thought out.
He said: "There is 200 pages of information which shows this has been taken seriously.
"The location is good and the land is not brilliant. I am in favour of our farmers and support maintaining them. Sheep will still be able to roam around.
"Solar energy is an alternative to the monster of wind turbines on the air. They are less intrusive than four or five turbines and I would like to see more."
Councillor Jim Davies said that solar panel had proved successful.
He added: "There will be a loss of some agricultural land. There will be minor visual impact which versus the need for power.
"Sheep can still graze and there has been no objections locally, so there is no reason not to approve the scheme."
Councillor Ron Locker said that solar power had been tried and tested.
He said: "This could be one of many applications, as I know the feeling of wind turbines. This is not offending people. It is good to see something like this."
Councillor Stephen Ellis said that the solar farm could provide 80 per cent of Cheadle's power while councillor John Fisher, who also supported the application, stated it was good to see people supporting green energy.
He said: "Wind turbines take a small parcel of land, this takes 23 hectares. The whole thing is well balanced and is a good application."
Councillor Julie Bull said she was also impressed with the application. She added: "I am fed up of going past houses with solar panels on the house roofs. This application even allows sheep to graze around it."
Councillor voted by nine to one in favour of approval.