Plans for a floating solar park on a reservoir near Brampton have been axed.

United Utilities Water Limited has made a U-turn on its proposal to install an array of solar panels across more than five acres of Castle Carrock reservoir.

The company said it was doing groundwork to figure out if it would be viable and that it never had any firm plans to go ahead with the development.

“We set out – as we have being doing at various reservoirs across the north west – to look at what permissions and what environmental studies would be required, but alongside that, if it would make sense for the investment in order to bring down water bills in the future,” an energy spokesman told The Cumberland News .

“Looking at today’s facts and figures and taking into account where the Government is in terms of subsidies, Castle Carrock just would not work for us.”

The company decided that the proposed development was too small and would need to be a similar size to the array given the go-ahead in Godley Reservoir in Hyde, Greater Manchester, which is set to be the largest floating solar system in Europe and second largest in the world. The Godley development will cost £3.5m and cover an area of 45,500sq m.

It is set to reduce energy costs and keep customers future water bills low.

The spokesman said United Utilities is focusing on ground solar but would not rule out future floating solar panels at Castle Carrock. There are now no plans to make any changes at the reservoir.

John Miles, a resident and local birdwatcher, who described the plans as “absolutely ridiculous”, has welcomed the news.

“I’m very pleased,” he said. “I think it could have been handled a lot better. Nobody was consulted in the area and it was bad for United Utilities to think that people would not react in the way they did. We’ve got a democratic government. We should be able to discuss things and not have them thrown at us.”

Mr Miles was concerned for wildlife in the area and that the panels would have a negative impact on tourism as the reservoir is popular with walkers.

“It’s glass when it comes down to it and it reflects so you could see it from miles around,” he said. “I just don’t think it was viable there.”

Castle Carrock parish council is also pleased to hear the plans have been abandoned but suggested an alternative to the company.

Chairman George Devereux said a hydro-power solution would be less of a visual intrusion but could also benefit the village.

“The water doesn’t come from the immediate area, it comes in by pipeline from Geltsdale, the next valley over. To us it seemed logical the water already in the pipeline is perfect for driving a turbine to make electricity,” he said.

“It’s a shame that all that water comes surging down there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and apart from using the water there’s no extra use taken from it.”

United Utilities has hydro-powered energy projects at other reservoirs.

The spokesman said: “We haven’t looked at Castle Carrock in particular but it’s not to say we wouldn’t look at it in the future as part of our renewable programme.”

Mr Devereux was surprised to hear United Utilities could have been able to build without planning permission in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

An application for a Lawful Development Certificate was lodged with Carlisle City Council in September. If approved this would mean the development could go ahead without planning permission.

He said: “I’m pro-solar but not everywhere. It was inappropriate on the open water. I don’t mind them putting them on buildings.

“If you go up the fell, you look right down on it. A great big splodge of solar panels there would be an eyesore but also a real danger to the wildlife.”

United Utilities said it takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. It wants to reduce carbons emissions at the site and by 2020 aims to generate 35 per cent of the energy needed to power the site from renewable sources. It wanted to generate some of the electricity needed to power the treatment works and by covering the increased running costs customers’ bills would not be affected.

The 5.6-acre development was expected to have an output of 0.75MW and generate about 637,500 kW hrs of electricity annually, enough to power the equivalent of 190 homes.