Calne solar plan gets warm welcome

This Is Wiltshire: Calne resident Paul Stallard studies the plans Calne resident Paul Stallard studies the plans

Plans for a 46-hectare solar park on the outskirts of Calne were unveiled at a public consultation in the town hall last Friday.

The site, between High Penn Farm and Abberd Lane, on land originally used for landfill next to a quarry owned by Hills, belongs to local farmer Jim Angel.

He plans to lease it to the Hive Energy Company which wants to start work by the autumn if the planning bid is successful.

The solar farm would generate between 12 and 14 megawatts of electricity which would be enough to supply 8,500 homes.

The electricity would go directly into the National Grid, meaning the scheme could supply renewable power for every home in Calne and further afield.

A total of 73 people attended the exhibition and many appeared positive about the plans, including resident Derek Quinn who lives in Oxford Road.

He said: “My wife and I invested in a wind farm. We’re both very environmentally aware and you don’t get much more environmentally friendly than this. In two years’ time I don’t think people will know it’s there.”

Sarah Donlan, from Quemer-ford, said: “I’m all for renewable energy, and solar panels are quiet and not intrusive on the landscape. This seems to be a very good idea.”

The solar panels would be 2.2 metres high and each row would be set eight metres apart to prevent overshadowing of each other.

The construction process, which involves piles sunk into the ground to support the panels, would last around three months and would remain on the site for 25 years.

Hive’s business development director Julian Pertwee said the farm would help with government energy targets.

The UK has committed to sourcing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 80 per cent by 2050.

Mr Pertwee said: “Every town is going to need some form of renewable energy and the nearer you can get to the town the better the distribution.

“They have brought it down to a level where it cannot be viewed from any area of outstanding natural beauty so I think we have got a really good site.”

Hive has also said it would be keen to provide a secure outdoor education area within the park and to work with the council towards installing solar panels on the roof of the town hall.

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