PLANS to turn a landfill site into a giant solar farm have been submitted to Thurrock Council.

And the proposals, which will see panels fitted across a 76-acre area - equivalent to 43 football pitches - just north east of South Ockendon and west of the Orsett Fen, have got the backing of residents.

The enormous 37 mega watt solar farm, which is being proposed by Veolia, would generate enough electricity to power 8,256 homes per year.

Maggie Pollock, a trustee of the South Ockendon Community Forum, said the plans were widely backed locally, with 81 per cent of the 107 residents who took part in the consultation indicating support for the scheme.

Ms Pollock told the Gazette: “This is a piece of ground that is landfill. Now that’s finished, nothing can be done with it; it can’t be built on for at least 30 years.

“To have this farm, that will be fenced off and secure, we thought that was a sensible way of getting a bit of electricity back into the grid and energy costs down.

“It’s a really good thing.”

Solar farms work by generating electricity from daylight. The electricity is then fed into the local electricity distribution network.

Land on the site, accessed by Medebridge Road, just off the Stifford Interchange at the A13, is at different stages of restoration after being filled with waste in recent years.

But once it is has been made safe, the site will be broken up into five sections, each with row-upon-row of solar panels sitting two metres off the ground and contained within two-metre high fences.

Within the whole site boundary, there will also be a substation, a control room and inverter-transformer stations - which convert the currents into electricty for the grid.

The farm will take between six months and a year to construct and be in operation for around 25 years, before it is decommissioned.

A spokesman for Veolia said: “We have had a positive response to the Ockendon solar project from the nearly one hundred visitors who attended our two exhibitions in advance of our planning application.

“As the process continues we will continue to meet with local groups and residents to discuss our proposals to produce clean renewable energy on the former landfill site in line with our commitment to sustainable development.”