Solar energy bid for farming land
Plans have been submitted to build a 25-acre solar farm on agricultural land at Marston, near Devizes.
Good Energy in Chippenham held a consultation on its plans last year and submitted a planning application for the site at Lower End Farm last week.
The solar farm would have 19,600 ground-mounted solar panels and would generate about 4.9 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply around 1,100 homes.
This electricity would be sent into the National Grid via existing overhead power cables. The three fields where the solar panels would be are grade four agricultural land, deemed to be low grade.
Rob and Margaret Elliott, who have owned Lower End Farm since 1982, will continue to run their organic, free-range egg business and intend to graze sheep around the solar panels.
They said: “We are also planning to install new chicken sheds that will include rooftop solar panels, helping to further reduce the carbon footprint of the farm.”
Good Energy plans to have a community fund of £4,900 per year (rising with inflation) for the 30-year lifetime of the solar farm. The company has also commissioned an independent ecological plan to create new wildlife habitats including planting wildflower meadows and new hedgerows, setting up beetle banks and installing bat and bird boxes, in and around the solar farm.
Juliet Davenport, founder and chief executive of Good Energy, said the plan would reduce reliance on imported energy and move away from fossil fuels, while enhancing habitats for wildlife. She said the site was well concealed.
Campaign group Wiltshire Protect, which was set up after proposals for a number of solar parks near Seend, said it will object to the planning application at Marston.
Spokesman Jack Churchill said: “It’s the cumulative effect that these solar farms create by changing the character of green open land as the landscape goes from being rural to industrial. One hundred per cent of the developments put forward are on agricultural land.”