A SOLAR farm on the outskirts of Westbury would generate energy for 8,000 homes, say its backers.

The Forest Council has this week advertised the plans for fields at Gravel Farm, Cleeve as “a major development”.

The applicants are a London-based company called Relay Gravel Ltd who say they are committed to consulting local people throughout the planning process.

An exhibition of the proposals has already been held and the applicants say the feedback indicated local opinion was evenly split between support and opposition.

The 59.5-hectare (144 -acre) site is spread across seven fields.

If permission is granted, it would see the installation and operation of ground-mouthed solar farm rateed at 30MWp.

MWp is megawatt peak and describes the energy output of the farm under ideal conditions.

Each array, or set, of panels will be 3.3m, around 11ft, with land between them for corridors and to provide habitat for wildlife.

The lowest edge would be 1.5m, about five feet, off the ground.

The panels are fixed to metal frames which are set in metal baskets which means the ground does not have to be dug.

It is expected the solar farm would operate for 40 years.

At the end of that time the farm would be “decommissioned” and the land returned to how it is now”.

The applicants say the site was chosen because it is not near any large residential developments and is on low-grade agricultural land.

In a design report, it is stated the solar farm “has the output capacity to power the equivalent of approximately 8,000 homes.”

It adds that the proposals “include the creation of large areas of new species rich habitats resulting in a biodiversity net gain across the site.

“These new habitats will be safeguarded and allowed to flourish for the lifetime of the project.”

The applicants also say there will be a community benefit fund making an annual financial contribution.

The report also says the proposal would include Include the generation of clean renewably sourced electricity to meet the essential requirement to reduce carbon emissions and tackle climate change.”