A SOLAR farm the size of about 1,140 Olympic swimming pools has been given permission to be built near a village.

Uttlesford Council’s planning committee has approved plans by Clearstone Energy Ltd for a 114 hectare solar farm east of School Lane, between the villages of Felsted and Great Notley.

A council report says the farm would provide enough clean electricity to power 15,200 homes or 26,000 electric cars.

However, the council is seeking further assurances over guarantees it will be decommissioned after 40 years and how much this will cost, via a series of planning agreements.

A section 106 agreement, a decommissioning agreement and an ecological management plan will have to be negotiated and returned to the committee, who will then have the final say.

Concerns were also raised at the latest meeting over potential harm to three local listed buildings, as well as the farm’s impact on the landscape and a resultant loss of agricultural land.

Clearstone Energy development manager Digby Willoughby told the committee there is a “growing sense of urgency” to confront the climate emergency.

He said: “We face a climate emergency that requires low carbon power, a cost of living crisis which requires affordable power, we have a war in Ukraine which has reinforced the need to secure domestic power.”

Several committee members raised concerns over the proposed 40-year lifespan of the farm and questioned whether this would change if the land was sold to another owner during this time.

Responding to questions, council development manager Nigel Brown said it is unknown at this stage how much decommissioning would cost.

Councillor Richard Pavitt proposed the solar farm should be approved, subject to the agreements returning to the committee, which would include an estimated cost for decommissioning.

He said: “We really do need to ensure that this agreement we’re going to be creating is really belt and braces, not just in terms of all this business about landowners and so forth, but actually the monetary value, to make sure that it is truly realistic.”

The planning agreements are expected to return to the committee in at least six months.