ENERGY chiefs have assured villagers they will be in a ‘stronger position’ when nearly 1,000 solar panels are built across more than 1,250 square metres of unspoilt countryside.
Planners have approved an application from land owners the Lichfield family for Bowler Energy to build the photovoltaic panels at Dunsfield Farm, in Thorney Lanes, Marchington Woodlands.
The land was the subject of a wind turbine application, which was recently rejected by planning authority chiefs.
Villagers have commented on the application and claimed the scale of the development is ‘not acceptable’.
However, Bowler Energy’s Andrew Price told the Advertiser they will see the benefits of the panels when energy supplies run thin during the next decade.
He said: “The electricity infrastructure in the area isn’t the best as it’s the end of the line and has been unsuitable for some time.
“What our client is trying to do is achieve some level of security for himself and others in the area.
“The cost of energy is going up rapidly - it’s risen by 66 per cent in 10 years - so he’ll benefit from the power going into his meter.
“But whenever he’s not using the electricity it’ll go into lines in the local area and will become the property of the grid.
“When, as is predicted by experts, the lights start flickering in 10 years’ time, there’ll be a strong source of local electricity keeping levels topped up.”
It is thought that, as soon as 2018, Britain may have to adopt the system used in South Africa, which involves turning off the national grid for certain periods of the day.
Mr Price said: “Demand for power is going up and up and production is not increasing quickly enough, which is an untenable burden on the National Grid, and areas with renewable energy sources will be in a stronger position.
“The client is a farmer and one of his main overheads is energy. This move will allow him to concentrate on farming rather than worrying about his energy bills.”
Two villagers sent comments to East Staffordshire Borough Council in protest at the application.
One reads: “We have no objections to a smaller number of solar panels to supply to farms but the number of panels due to be installed is too many.
“Also, all the trees in the adjoining hedgerow were cut down this Spring, making this application more open to the direct sunlight and meaning the solar panels will be more in view than before with increased glare.”
Another reads: “This application is slightly better than wind turbines but is still not acceptable when there is roof space that could take solar panels and not waste land that could produce crops.”
A British Gas spokesman explained the benefits of fitting the panels.
He said: “By generating your own electricity you could save on your energy bills.
“Plus with the Government’s Feed-in Tariff, you could be paid for every kilowatt hour you generate.
“The rate you will receive depends on the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating your home achieves.
“In addition to this any electricity you don’t use, will earn you extra income by feeding energy into the grid.”
The application can be viewed online at www.eaststaffsbc.gov.uk.