Seend farmer pins hopes on solar plan
Updated 12:35pm Friday 28th February 2014 in News
Seend farmer Mark Newman says having solar panels on his land will help to safeguard his business.
He wants to build a 20-acre solar park on four fields at Rew Farm but neighbours are concerned at the growing number of solar park planning applications near Seend.
Recent plans include a 198-acre solar park at Sandridge and 79- acre solar park at Poulshot.
Solar power installation company Green Switch Solutions plans to build the solar park on the land at Rew Farm at the bottom of Bollands Hill and held an exhibition at the Barge Inn, Seend Cleeve, last week.
Mr Newman, 36, is the fourth generation of his family at the 200-acre beef farm.
He said: “I do fully appreciate the concerns of people. I’m not doing it to upset anybody. I’m doing it hoping to safeguard my business.
“Things are fairly tight and a solar park is a way of making it viable. I have a one-year-old son and I’m hoping he will be the next generation to take the farm on.”
The fields where the park is proposed are used for grazing. There would be 15,972 solar panels producing 4MW a year, enough to power 800 average-sized homes.
Green Switch, based in Lancashire, would lease the site for 25 years.
The firm has built 20 solar parks and Rew Farm would be its first in Wiltshire.
Josh Hellawell, a planner at Green Switch, said: “A lot of potential sites for solar parks fall by the wayside but the land at Rew Farm is a good site because it has overhead cables and the land is grade three (low level) agricultural land.”
Concerns expressed at the exhibition included that the panels would be visually intrusive and Mr Hellawell said the company would consider screening them. A planning application could be submitted in six weeks.
Seend parish councillor Paul Manning, giving his personal opinion, said: “Seend sits on top of a ridge and has views from every direction. It means the visual impact is much more noticeable to us.
"Nobody is against solar panels and we realise the energy has to be found from somewhere but Wiltshire Council ought to be looking at a better balance where these developments are sited and their impact on the community.”
And Seend resident Sue McCulloch, a member of campaign group Wiltshire Protect, said: “It’s fair to say nobody is against renewable energy. The issue is with all the multiple applications going in now, we are looking at 651 acres within a five mile radius of the village for solar farms that have been built and are proposed.”