A COUPLE fear their country home will be surrounded by an “industrial ribbon of steel”

if a 37-acre solar panel farm is given the go-ahead.

Liz and Andrew Mitchell say the large-scale development earmarked for fields at Buckhayes Farm, near Bampton, would severely impact on their quality of life and destroy the agricultural ambience of the area.

An application has been submitted to Mid Devon District Council for thousands of solar panels on the site with a transformer station, access tracks and a 7ft security fence.

The couple, who breed event horses on their land, fear the development would be a target for vandals and thieves after dark, and the panel faces would increase rainwater run-off and add to the flooding risk.

They have also raised concerns about its impact on the resident European hare population and have criticised applicants Luminicity for failing to respond to a three-page letter outlining their objections until days before the planning application was submitted.

“They didn’t address any of our concerns and now we’re in danger of living with an industrial ribbon of steel around us,” said Liz.

“There must be sufficient brown field sites and roofs to put these panels on.

“It seems ironic that we all have to jump through hoops to build anything on our own land, yet they’re proposing industrial buildings on prime agricultural land.

“We live here because of its totally unspoilt rural outlook – we don’t want to live next to a very visible industrial site.”

The applicant’s agent Colin Virtue said: “We undertook a letter drop in the area three months before the planning application was submitted and received a handful of responses from residents.

“We collated these results, and any issues raised were addressed thoroughly and robustly in supporting documents with the application, including flooding and ecological reports.”

A previous application to turn over 45 acres of land near Morebath into a solar farm was recently refused, and a bid to convert a similarsized area of land on the other side of the village was withdrawn.

A decision on plans for a third development capable of generating up to 1.5MW of power at Blatchworthy Farm, near Stoodleigh, has yet to be made.