TWO plans have been unveiled to cover 150 acres of farmland with solar panels.

Proposals have been submitted to create a a solar farm capable of generating up to 5MW east of Sandhutton, near Thirsk, while large-scale photovoltaic power plants firm Luminous Energy is set to apply for permission to build a 105-acre scheme at East Cowton, near Northallerton, later this week.

The plans follow an 18,000-panel scheme at Ainderby Steeple, near Northallerton, capable of powering 1,318 homes, and a scheme involving about 20,000 panels across a 24-acre site near Sessay being granted consent last year.

The 45-acre Elgin Energy Esco plan at Sandhutton would see electricity from about 20,000 1.9m by 1m panels exported to the National Grid by an underground cable.

The firm said as the dark blue panels would be 2.8m above ground level at their highest point a series of mitigation and enhancement measures had been proposed, including planting trees and hedges to screen the site.

A spokesman for Elgin said: "The solar development would introduce a new element within a mainly rural open landscape.

"The layout of the site has been designed in such a way as to avoid locating panels on the more elevated, central part of the field, which will reduce the visual influence of the development."

He said on decommissioning the solar farm after 25 years, all equipment would be removed and the land will returned to its previous condition.

Residents in Sandhutton said as the scheme would not directly benefit the village and would see 120 lorry movements to and from the site during a 12-week construction period, they hoped the developers would help fund new facilities in the village, such as a children's playground.

Jolyon Orchard, of Luminous Energy said the scale of the East Cowton scheme was related to achieving economies of scale and competition for government subsidies.

He added the firm had chosen the site as it was well screened and that solar panels were the least controversial form of energy production.

East Cowton Parish Council chairman Stephen Watson said the scheme had received a mixed reception from residents.

He said: "The main concern is the loss of the agricultural land."

A Hambleton District Council spokesman said it was felt that while there may be some effects on the environment as a result of the East Cowton development, it would not be of a size, nature nor in a location likely to have significant effects on the environment.