A south Cumbrian MP has raised concerns in parliament. over a proposed solar farm.

The MP for Barrow and Furness Simon Fell spoke about the proposed solar farm on land to the south of Riddings Lane in Gleaston, between Barrow and Ulverston, in a parliamentary session on April 16.

Mr Fell said: “I’m all for more solar but it shouldn’t be placed on good agricultural land such as this.”

In October Westmorland and Furness Council determined an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was not necessary for the proposed solar farm which, plans say, will use an area of 104 hectares and will have a maximum export capacity of 49.9MW.

This was in response to a ‘screening request’ submitted by Novus Renewable Services Ltd.

If screening from the council identified significant environmental effects an environmental impact assessment would have been necessary.

In parliament Mr Fell said: “At my constituency surgery on Friday, I met representatives of the Riddings Lane solar action group who are concerned about the proposals to build a new solar farm covering 145 football fields’ worth of land between the villages of Gleaston, Dendron, Leece and Newbiggin.

“Does the Minister agree that solar farms are great but should not go on prime agricultural land?”

In response the parliamentary under secretary of state at the department for energy security and net zero Andrew Bowie said: “As my honourable friend is aware, we have a presumption against building on the best and most versatile agricultural land.

“Due to my quasi-judicial role in planning I cannot speak to the issue directly, but I am very happy to meet him and, indeed, any representatives from his constituency to discuss the project in question.”

According to documents submitted to the council, the proposed solar farm would provide electricity for 12,740 homes and would offset 10,700 tonnes of CO2 each year.

The solar farm would also have a 20MW energy storage facility.

A letter submitted on behalf of the applicant states: “There is a demonstrable and urgent requirement for the development of renewable energy to meet the net zero targets and ensure the security of the UK energy supply.

“The UK’s legally binding requirement is to reach net zero emissions by 2050. Solar energy plays a vital part in the commitment to decarbonise energy supply in the UK and the transition to low carbon energy to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, such as gas.

“The proposed development would utilise natural resources, to generate clean, green renewable energy.”

The land is currently marked as grade three agricultural land which means it is of ‘moderate quality’, according to Natural England’s Regional Maps.

According to the letter, the proposed development would take six months to build and would have a lifespan of 40 years.

The applicant states after this period the land would be returned to its former use.

A planning application is expected to be submitted in 2024.