Verdict awaited on Wiltshire solar park
10:55am Friday 17th January 2014 in By Court reporter
A decision on west Wiltshire’s largest solar farm is expected later this month, now the deadline for public comments has passed.
The public consultation for the Sandridge Solar Farm bid, which could mean 67 hectares of solar panels being installed on land between Seend and Melksham, ended on December 20.
If given the go-ahead, the site would be capable of producing around ten per cent of the county’s renewable energy target by 2020.
The plans have been supported by Bromham Parish Council, Melksham town and Melksham without councils.
Peter Paget, chairman of Bromham Parish Council, said: “It was a straight-forward decision for us and we passed it unanimously.
“We thought it was a good scheme. We have got to get energy from somewhere and they can still use the land for feeding when the solar farm’s done. I’ve heard of no opposition to it from Bromham, but nobody ever wants anything in their back garden do they? If it was a goldmine people would still want to oppose it.”
But Seend Parish Council voted against the plan, amid intense opposition from many village residents who believe the site will spoil the landscape.
The Wiltshire Protect group has campaigned against the building of solar farms on greenfield land. It was formed by Seend resident Jack Churchill, who has led calls to limit the number of sites built near the village.
St John Hughes, director of applicant Sandridge Solar Power, said: “We’re delighted with the support shown for the project from the local parishes, who represent a very large proportion of the community, and throughout this process there’s been a good level of support expressed directly from members of the public too.
“We understand some people have concerns, so we have done our best to address any misinformation promptly to ensure the facts are there.”
If approved, a community fund of £44,000 per year would be set up to fund local projects bringing economic, environmental or social benefits. Wiltshire’s Council’s decision is expected within the next few weeks.
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