A SOLAR panel farm the size of more than 15 football pitches could be set to be constructed in a rural Ribble Valley village.

Applicants Solar Park Developments 5 Ltd are seeking to install the panels on land in Coal Pit Lane, Gisburn.

After having held a public exhibition of the plans last month in the village a full planning application has now been submitted to Ribble Valley Borough Council.

If the plan is approved later this year it will cover around 11.26 hectares and would generate around 19,000 MWh per year which is the equivalent to the electricity requirements of around 1,500 homes.

The applicants have said that it would also result in a CO2 emission reduction of approximately 10,520 tonnes every year.

The panels will be situated in three fields if approved and are expected to last for 25 years with the land returning to agricultural use.

In a statement to the council on behalf of the applicant a spokesman for ADAS UK said: "The site is currently in agricultural use and is classified as Agricultural Land Grade Four in the DEFRA Agricultural Land Classification ratings.

"This means it is classified as poor quality agricultural land with severe limitations which restrict the range of crops that can be grown and/ or the level of yields.

"There are no views of the proposed development from Gisburn.

"The land underneath the solar panels may be used for grazing agricultural livestock.

"The development at Coal Pit Lane would make a significant contribution towards national and regional renewable energy targets.

"It would improve the biodiversity on the site, provide a period of rest for the intensively farmed agricultural land and involve enhancement of existing landscape features such as hedgerows and trees.

"There would be a small economic benefit to the local economy through income to a local farm business and a wider benefit to the UK economy."

Gisburn parish Councillor David Waters said: "I'm not opposed to solar panels but I think that the size of his particular project could well be detrimental to the village.

"I have spoken to people in Gisburn about this and some have been in favour and some have not.

"There are some people who think that the land could be better used for agriculture instead of solar panels while others say that they have no problem at all with it.

"I think now the full plans have been published people will be interested to read the plans before they can form a more informed opinion either way."