SOLAR barriers laid alongside a stretch of the A419 will be applied for by Swindon Council after cabinet approved the scheme.

The project will cost £2.6m for a 1.7km stretch of barriers, which will also act as a noise trap to stifle sounds of traffic affecting nearby properties.

The expected revenue from the solar scheme is around £140,000 per annum, meaning the cost would be recouped by earning £3.5m over the next 25 years.

A study is due to begin into the feasibility of a similar, far more expensive £11m solar barrier scheme along the M4 around Wichelstowe.

The A419 barriers will run from the Commonhead junction in the south to Blunsdon in the north, and is expected to reduce noise levels for around 700 homes.

The report produced for the cabinet’s consideration said: “There are over 200 households affected by noise levels above 60db where there is no existing noise barrier along the A419. Even where barriers exist, there are properties which are exposed to high noise levels.

“Noise barriers equipped with solar panels could provide a self-funded solution to the issue of high noise levels on trunk roads.”

The western side of the A419 has been deemed unsuitable for the barriers, and the proposals are for them to be laid on the eastern side.

The report continued: “The work has revealed further potential along the northern side of the M4 at Wichelstowe.

“Such a scheme is likely to cost in excess of £11m, but generate annual revenues of around £1.2m, given its favourable east-west orientation for solar generation.

“The 25 year lifespan of the project is therefore likely to generate revenues significantly in excess of the capital cost of the scheme, and include the benefit of providing a high level of noise protection to future communities at Wichel-stowe. Such a scheme would also represent a highly visible statement of Swindon’s future energy ambitions.”

Under the proposals Swindon Commercial Services would be commissioned and authorised to carry out the work into stakeholder engagement to get the project off the ground.

Two site locations have also been approved by cabinet following Wednesday’s meeting to further opportunities for solar farms to be constructed, at Common Farm in Wroughton, and Chapel Farm landfill site in Blunsdon.

Planning applications will now be submitted for both sites subject to public consultations.