A SOLAR farm in Pyworthy which will provide enough electricity to power more than 3,000 homes has been approved by planners.
The site stretches across six fields on land at Crinacott Farm near Holsworthy. The 42 acre (17 hectare) solar farm will consist of 1,331 racks of photovoltaic panels. Each rack will hold 24 panels.
Existing hedgerows will not be damaged when the building takes place and new hedges will be planted to help improve the habitat for wildlife.
The land underneath the panels will be used to graze sheep. Currently, the land is being used for maize and grass on rotation.
Chartered town planning consultancy firm Parker Dean is working on behalf of the applicants Sunsave 4 (Pyworthy) Ltd.
Mark Best, a consultant with Parker Dean said he was pleased the application was approved. He said: "We are delighted Torridge District Council and local residents share our progressive thinking for this rather exciting development.
"Proposals like this have several benefits. Clean energy is a significant benefit; it reduces the dependency on fossil fuels."
He said the land would be restored to its previous form if the solar farm was ever removed.
"We held a community consultation prior to submitting our planning application. There wasn't much interest. People in Devon and Cornwall are used to proposals of this ilk."
Penny Mills, chairman of the Torridge branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said she was concerned about the influx of large solar farm applications throughout Devon.
Penny said: "The electricity they produce is small compared to the impact they make. The cumulative effect of so many schemes is very worrying.
"This is farmland which will be taken out of food production and be turned into power production.
"Across Devon the total is 1,500 acres of farmland which is now taken up by solar farms, either already approved, in planning or in scoping and screening requests. How much farmland can we afford to lose like this?
"The objection is that they take up land. If solar panels were on roofs there would not be the objection.
"We have thousands of roofs, agricultural buildings, industrial buildings, warehouses, offices, hospitals, schools as well, of course, millions of residential roofs.
"There are roofs in towns and cities, let's see a proper plan that includes them."
Mr Best said he hoped building work would start in the next few weeks. The farm has been commissioned for 25 years.