AN East Lancashire-based defence giant has announced plans to install 10,000 solar panels at its site in Samlesbury.

The area, which is almost the size of nine football fields, could generate up to 25 per cent of the BAE Systems site’s peak demand for electricity if permission is granted.

The company has said that the 13.3 acre-site could generate 2MW of peak electrical output if South Ribble Borough Council approve the application, which is set to be submitted this week.

The 2.5metre-high solar panels will be located on an area of the site that includes a portion of the old runway.

The company has said that woodland on either side of the runway will provide ‘natural screening’ from most locations in the area. Stuart Barker, estates manager at BAE Systems Samlesbury, said: “The company is committed to doing all it can to reduce the amount of energy we use and to minimise our impact on the environment. The installation of solar panels would have significant benefits for both the company and the environment.

“Over their lifetime, the panels would prevent the equivalent of 29,000 tonnes of CO2 being added to the atmosphere.”

Graham Ashworth, chairman of Samlesbury Parish Council, said: “I’m looking forward to viewing the plans.

“I’m sure at that point the parish council will want to comment further after we give it due consideration.”

The proposed installation would only generate power for BAE Systems’ operations, lessening its reliance on the National Grid and freeing up capacity for developments on the Lancashire Enterprise Zone.

A decision by South Ribble Borough Council is expected in September, and if approved, installation would commence shortly afterwards.

BAE Systems’ Samlesbury site manufactures the aft fuselage and empennage for all versions of the new F-35 jet and major components for Typhoon jets.