A 24-hectare solar farm could be built inside the South Downs National Park.

Residents are being asked for their views on a major new solar farm of more than 75,000 solar panels proposed for a farm based between Lewes and Ringmer.

Cambridge-based Vogt Solar UK has proposed the massive energy site at Upper Stoneham Farm, Ringmer, which could produce energy for 4,500 homes.

The firm said it was “sensitive” to the site being in the national park but that the landowner was very keen for the land, currently used for arable, to be used for solar energy.

However, critics have said the plan appears contrary to the purposes of the national park.

The energy firm says it is at the consultation stage and says it is “far too early” to say when the site would be up and running.

Vogt Solar UK is also behind a 20-hectare farm at Oving near Chichester which opened in July.

Any planning application would be for 25 years to coincide with the length of time given by Government tariffs.

A company spokeswoman claimed the farmland could be returned back more fertile than before as the land would not be subjected to fertilisers and so this would allow fauna and flora to flourish while bat boxes and hedgehog runs could also used at the site.

The planned site would retain some agricultural pur- pose with sheep allowed to graze around the solar panels.

Commenting on the notification of the public consultation on the South Downs National Park, Dr John Kay of Campaign to Protect Rural England Sussex said the solar farm proposed would appear to be “extremely visible” from the Nature Reserve on Malling Down or the B2192.

He added: “Grade 2 agricultural land, in use for a millennium or so as productive arable, is about as good as farmland gets in the national park.

“So the scheme appears both contrary to the purposes of the national park and contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework policy on conserving the best agricultural land.”

Two public consultation events will be held, next Monday at Lewes Town Hall and on Wednesday May 8 at Ringmer Village Hall, both between 3pm and 8pm.