Solar farm go-ahead at Poulshot dismays campaigners
Updated 4:41pm Monday 3rd March 2014 in By Jill Crooks, Devizes area senior reporter
Campaigners are dismayed that the go-ahead has been given for a large solar farm at Poulshot.
The 80-acre solar farm will be built on four arable fields at Poulshot Lodge Farm, leased from farmer Tim Hues for a period of 25 years, whose family has farmed animals there for 47 years and will continue to do so.
The ground mounted panels will be arranged in long rows and will generate about 15 megawatts of electricity a year, enough to power about 4,600 homes. The energy will be fed directly into the National Grid.
Jack Churchill, spokesman for campaign group Wiltshire Protect, said: “It’s very disappointing that this solar park application has been given approval.
"That land is very undulating and there has been a huge amount of concern locally about the development.
"So many councils have strategies for solar farms but Wiltshire Council doesn’t. It needs to otherwise this area is going to change dramatically into an industrial park.”
Mr Churchill said there was a total of 625 acres of land within a five-mile radius of Seend either approved or where permission was sought for solar farms.
Wiltshire Council received 57 letters of objection and two petitions, one with 45 names and the other with 300, to the Poulshot scheme and there were 70 letters of support.
Those against the solar farm said the panels would look unsightly and, combined with other solar park applications, would swamp the area within five miles of Seend.
Supporters of the scheme say solar was the best option for energy generation and would help Mr Hues to diversify his business.
No objections were received from Poulshot or Seend parish councils.
The applicant, Hive Energy, revised the scheme following concerns raised by Wiltshire Council’s landscape and design officer that the solar panels would be highly visible, but planning officers concede that the panels will still be prominent from footpaths leading to and from Seend and from farmsteads on the opposite side of the valley.
However, they believe this impact must be balanced by the benefits of a renewable energy scheme and granted permission under delegated powers yesterday.
In his report, planning officer Morgan Jones says: “The proposed development would make a significant contribution towards Wiltshire’s renewable energy target (it would increase energy generation in Wiltshire by over ten per cent) and as such, on balance, it is considered that the overall environmental benefits associated with the proposal outweigh any adverse impacts.”
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