Array of 600 solar panels to be installed at Peak District farm

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An array of 600 solar panels will be installed on the ground at a Peak District farm in what is being described as a ‘landmark decision’.

National Park planners have given permission for the ground-mounted panels to put in at Wetwood Farm in Meerbrook, because of its minimal impact on the surrounding landscape and for its ‘positive contribution to providing renewable energy to a local business.’

Members of the committee which approved it visited the site the day before and viewed it from a number of locations and were satisfied the panels’ installation – which is shielded from view by trees – would not be unduly intrusive.

Paul Ancell, chair of the Peak District National Park’s planning committee, said: “This is an important decision and one we have not taken lightly – we have to put the landscape first. In this case we believe the ground array of solar panels will not have a significant impact on the national park. So we are pleased to support this working dairy farm in reducing its carbon footprint.”

The approval was given with the condition that the farmer ensures existing trees and shrubs are retained, and more planted, to continue to protect the site from long-distance views. The panels will also be finished with an anti-reflective coating in order to reduce glare.

Mr Ancell added: “Every site has its own solution – what is acceptable here may not be appropriate in other locations.

“However,this is a great example of how a farm business can achieve its ambitions with renewable energy in a way that does not harm the Peak District National Park.”

An application for a wind turbine at Pikehall Farm was refused, in order to protect the landscape.