WILTSHIRE councillors have reluctantly approved a solar farm development on a farm at Marston, near Devizes.

The scheme by Good Energy of Chippenham will be on 25 acres at Lower End Farm and have 19,600 ground -mounted solar panels.

Wiltshire Council planning officers recommended approval and the eastern area planning committee granted permission at a meeting last Thursday, but some councillors spoke of their concern at the increasing number of solar park developments in the county.

Councillor Richard Gamble said the approved and pending solar farm schemes together amount to almost 40 on just over 2,000 acres of land.

He said planning policy both nationally and locally provided little basis on which to control solar farms.

He said: “I’m pretty sceptical about solar farms. I’m not trying to stop this one – it’s one of the least objectionable – but I think the industry and Government should re-evaluate the policy.”

Coun Gamble was one of three members of the committee who abstained and the remaining four councillors voted to grant permission.

Coun Paul Oatway said: “In principle I’m not happy with this, but due to the very strong recommendation by the planning officer I will have to go with it.”

The solar farm has permission to operate for 30 years and Good Energy estimates it will generate about 4.9 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 1,200 homes.

Farmers Margaret and Rob Elliott, who have owned the land since 1982, will continue to run their organic, free range egg business and intend to graze sheep around the solar panels.

Marston Parish Council supported the application but had concerns over the access to be used by construction traffic to the farm, which will include a public footpath and Marston Green. Work will take ten to 12 weeks.

Wiltshire Council highways officers have requested a bond of £10,000 from Good Energy to ensure the public right of way is re-instated to its former condition.

Good Energy plans to have a community bond, setting aside £1,000 per megawatt of electricity annually.