PLANS to create a solar farm large enough to power 15,621 homes close to two designated environmentally-protected areas have divided a community.

Scores of residents living in the Husthwaite area have lodged letters of support and objection over a proposed joint venture between Lightrock Power and Econergy to create a 49.9W array of photo-voltaic panels on 246 acres of farmland off the A19 near the ancient village.

Documents submitted to Hambleton District Council state Woolpots Solar Farm, which lies half a mile from Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and a mile from the North York Moors National Park, would also include a substation compound and associated infrastructure, including inverters and transformers, fencing and security cameras.

The papers state the site is beside another large solar farm, Boscar Grange, which was developed in 2019 for Warrington Borough Council.

Agents for the firms have claimed while the Woolpots site would be visible from various locations, its landscape mitigation plan would lead to “landscape benefits as well as net gain of 208.71 per cent in biodiversity habitat units on-site.

They said the development also represents an opportunity to provide a significant amount of low carbon renewable energy in an appropriate location.

The application states: “Considerable care has been taken in the design of the development to avoid unacceptable environmental and amenity effects, whilst ensuring that the development can make a contribution to the UK’s requirement for renewable energy generation.

“In this case, there are clear benefits which arise from the renewable energy credentials of the development and the enhancements proposed in respect of biodiversity and landscape, which clearly outweigh the minimal adverse impacts.”

In response to the plans, Husthwaite Parish Council said it supported the generation of green energy and had no objection to solar farms in the parish, but when considered together with the Boscar Grange solar farm, it would “create an extremely large sea of panels in close proximity to the Howardian Hills Area of Natural Beauty”.

While the parish authority has called for measures to lessen its landscape impact, other residents said they had no issue with seeing a solar farm from their homes, particularly as it would help cut fossil fuel use.

In a letter of support to the council one farmer wrote with “ever-tightening margins in the agricultural world, the proposed solar farm would provide a much-needed alternative income source”, as well as providing a wildlife haven.

He added: “Indeed, I would feel proud of my small part in providing clean, green electricity for this increasingly energy hungry world.”

However, dozens of residents have condemned both the scale and siting of the solar farm in the deeply rural area known for its orchards and uninterrupted views to the White Horse of Kilburn and the Hambleton Hills, with many claiming the panels and infrastructure would industrialise the area.

They highlighted how the open countryside beside the national park and area of outstanding natural beauty was cited by residents in a Parish Plan survey as the most important factor to their enjoyment of living in Husthwaite.

Objectors said “extensive points of mitigation and liberal coats of greenwash do not amount to a justification for granting consent”.

In a letter of objection to the council, one resident wrote: “The village would be sandwiched between two industrial-scale developments on greenfield sites and no longer enjoy its open countryside setting. Almost 300 households are within one kilometre of the developments.

“I am, like most, supportive of solar power generation. But given the availability of less intrusive sites I feel that it’s unfair to disadvantage businesses, residents, visitors, tourism and lose productive agricultural land in order to blight open countryside to the commercial advantage of the applicants.”