Flare-up over plan for Trowbridge
1:00pm Friday 9th May 2014 in By Andy Baber, Senior reporter for Trowbridge
Residents voiced their disapproval about the size of a solar farm proposed for Cockhill Farm in Trowbridge, at a public consultation last Thursday.
Gaiger Solar, which was set up by Devizes-based builders Gaiger Brothers, is behind plans for a 20 megawatt solar farm covering 40 hectares at Cockhill Farm, off Cockhill Road.
It would generate enough renewable electricity to power around 6,000 average homes and save about 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide per year compared with electricity generated from fossil fuels.
However, neighbouring residents believe the solar farm will have a huge visual impact and are concerned about the effect it will have on their house prices and the wildlife if it goes ahead.
John Jones, who lives at Lady Down Farm with wife Bronwen, said: “To cover open green land with loads of solar panels is disgraceful.
“We have incredible views right across to Bradford on Avon which will be lost if this goes ahead. They are talking about screening it, but it takes years for hedgerows to grow.
“Nobody here is against solar power, but they have their place and should be on brown field sites or on new houses. We will do all we can to stop this going ahead.”
The site consists of two fields and is bounded on the north by the Kennet and Avon Canal, with the main railway line to the east, sewage works to the south and A363 Trowbridge Road to the west.
Steven Burton, of Westcroft Street, said: “If they put them on the roof of new buildings it would make sense, but I’m not sure I agree with covering such a huge site.”
A community benefit fund will be established, paying £1,000 per MW installed capacity for the 25-year lifetime of the solar farm – amounting to £20,000 a year or £500,000 for the lifetime of the project.
Sam Gaiger, director of Gaiger Solar, said about 50 people attended the consultation. He said: “Twice as many people said they supported our plans as opposed them.
“Understandably, some of the neighbours are concerned about the potential impact on their views, so we are working with them with the aim of reaching a satisfactory solution to make sure the site is well screened.”
Gaiger Solar has recently had a planning application for a 10 MW solar farm at Marsh Farm, Hilperton, approved by Wiltshire Council’s planning department, under delegated powers.
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