MORE than 1,000 homes will benefit from a new source of renewable energy after Swindon Council waved through plans for a new solar farm near Stanton Fitzwarren.

At a planning committee on Tuesday night there was overwhelming support for the application from councillors sitting on the committee.

JBM Solutions, a firm established to pursue solar developments, lodged the application to build a five megawatt park in 13.3 hectares north of the village at the end of May.

Stanton Solar Park will be installed on farmland owned by Steve Benson Farming, east of Trenchard Road and south of the B4019, which links Highworth with Blunsdon.

Despite some objections from the public regarding loss of wildlife habitat and impact on the landscape and natural beauty of the area, it was passed.

Simon Chamberlayne, who has represented JBM throughout the planning process, said: “We have worked hard and listened to local residents to ensure that the scheme is well hidden and that its construction causes as little disruption as possible.

“We are delighted that Swindon Council has recognised this and intend to grant planning permission for this development which will make a significant contribution to the generation of clean, renewable energy in the area.”

Work is expected to begin on the site before Christmas.

During the meeting, Coun Nick Martin (Con, Shaw) addressed concerns for damage to the natural beauty of the area as a result of this solar farm.

He said: “We face an interesting challenge these days. National Government seem to be well in favour of solar energy and these developments.

“Farmers farm to make a living rather than make the land pretty for us all to admire.

“We have to assume, in a lot of areas, solar energy farming is more valuable to the farmers than trying to grow wheat where wheat isn’t favoured.”

The application was also supported by Stanton Fitzwarren Parish Council. Chairman Tom Charnock said: “The parish said they were minded to support the application subject to the things we had suggested: Better sight-lines and screening.

“We have not had any objections voiced to us by villagers. It seems to be quite a low impact project.”

Once finished, the solar park will be connected to the national grid at the existing electricity substation, adjacent to the fields on the other side of Trenchard Road.