A large solar farm will be built on County Durham farmland after significant local support. 

Fishburn Solar Limited has won approval to build the 187-acre site on land near the village.

The large site, which measures at around 106 football pitches, is bound to the west by Fishburn Airfield, Spennymoor Clay Pigeon Club to the north west and a smaller solar development to the north east.

Submitted by applicant Locogen, the proposal received 105 letters of support from residents compared to 16 objections. A public consultation was held in June last year, in Fishburn Village Hall and Locogen was praised for the “community consensus” it had reached. 

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Yet some residents said they had not been fully informed. Fishburn resident Valerie Thompson likened the solar farm to a “blot” on the landscape and said it would be “as bad as having the pit heap back that once used to be very close to the terrace I live in and totally devalue the area”.

A Durham County Council planning meeting on Monday heard how the landowner’s family had explored new ways of using their farmland before settling on a solar farm. 

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Kerry Morgan, landowner, told the meeting that the feasibility of the proposed sites to grow cereals is now borderline. 

She added: “This unique opportunity to farm electricity and return fields to grass will allow us to diversify our farm business, continue farming in a more economically and environmentally friendly way, and most importantly enable the next generation to decide what is in the best interests of the farm.”

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Locogen says solar panels will only take up around five per cent of the designated site, with the rest able to be used for sheep grazing. 

A range of funding benefits have also been drawn up by the developer, with around £15,000 per year due to be provided to the community.

The proposal was approved by the planning committee and construction work is due to start later this year.