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Haslington villagers welcome plans for 46,000 solar panels – if it stops wind farm being built

Villagers have welcomed plans to install 46,500 solar panels in two fields to power about 3,700 homes – if it stops a wind farm being built at the site.

TGC Renewables plans to install 31,460 panels on 17.5 hectares of farmland off Maw Lane, Haslington, and 15,080 panels on 9.7 hectares off Clay Lane.

The equipment will stand just under three metres high and could take between two to three months to set up.

If approval is granted TGC hopes to have the panels in place by 2015. They have a 40-year life span but the firm is asking to use the field for only 25 years.

It has offered Haslington Parish Council £1,000 per year for each megawatt of power generated in the first 10 years

If both sites – which could generate 14.2 megawatts – go ahead, the council could receive up to £14,000 per year.

Yesterday, families visited Yoxall Village Hall to view the proposals.

Barrie Hacking, of Newtons Crescent, Winterley, said: “After looking at the plans I am happy in principle and would prefer it to a wind farm.”

Karen Harding, aged 38, of Winterley, said: “It is important that renewable energy is put into place.”

TGC leases lower grade land from farmers and landowners and pays them ‘higher than the average pasture rental rates’.

The company says animals will be able to graze on the fields when the panels are installed.

James Jamieson, senior town planner for TGC, which runs more than a dozen sites across the country, attended Tuesday’s consultation to discuss the plans with residents.

He said: “There’s a big demand for power in the Crewe area and the power created at these two sites will be sent to local houses.

“The great thing about these sites is that there are not many houses nearby and we will not have to move any hedges or trees.

“The technology has improved in the last few years so the panels will even work during a winter’s day. Also, the projects provide additional revenue for farmers.”

Haslington Parish Council chairman Richard Hovey said the solar farm would benefit the village.

He said: “The panels should be no higher than 10 feet so they will be screened by hedges.

“If both of the two sites were built they would power all of Haslington which has just over 2,500 houses.

“Personally I think it looks like a good idea. We have not come across any flaws yet and it will make the village more sustainable.”

A final decision will be made by Cheshire East Council when plans have been submitted.