A REPORT has been produced outlining the feasibility of several solar projects which will help Swindon take a step towards its renewable energy goals.

Last year, a cross-party task group was established to examine the possibility of setting up a solar sound barrier along the A419 and the M4.

The group has now reported back outlining the benefits of the scheme and recommending they are moved forward.

If it gets the go ahead, the A419 barrier will stretch 1.7 kilometres down the west side of the road and 2 kilometres down the east. It is estimated to cost in the region of £3.2 million to construct but will generate £140,000 a year in power meaning within 25 years it will have generated £3.5 million.

On top of that, within the Covingham area around 200 homes have been identified which are currently hit by more than 60 decibels of noise from the A419. “These homes could be protected by the barrier, which would be 3 metres high.”

The second barrier could be built in conjunction with the Wichelstowe project. The exact details are yet to be ironed out but the group reported back saying it would cost in the region of £11 million but would produce £1.5 million per year, thereby paying its cost off at a much faster rate.

Coun Dale Heenan (Con, Covingham and Dorcan) the cabinet member for strategic planning said: “For six months, a cross political party task group has been working up the plans for a solar panel based sound barrier along the A419 and M4, and the results are in. Many people were understandably cynical about the idea of a solar sound barrier along the A419 because of the roads orientation but we can demonstrate our approach is viable and could have positive implications for towns and villages across the UK.

“The A419 work has demonstrated that an M4 East Wichel solar sound barrier can work as a commercial project.”

The move towards a solar powered town has been supported by all parties in the council.

Coun Mark Dempsey, (Lab, Walcot and Park North), said: “We believe in an ambitious strategy to create a Solar Swindon. “The council has a great opportunity to establish new solar schemes across Swindon providing residents with low cost energy and helping to grow the green economy.

“We support a solar barrier on the A419 but it is clear that a solar barrier on the M4 will be much more effective given that the solar barrier would be south facing. “It would be a clear symbol of a ‘solar Swindon’ and help attract new businesses to our town.”