Calne energy company checks out land near town for photovoltaic project
10:00am Thursday 27th September 2012 in Latest News
An energy company is investigating the possibility of setting up a 46-hectare solar park on the outskirts of Calne.
The site, between High Penn Farm and Abberd Lane, is located on land originally used for landfill and is next to a quarry site owned by Hills.
It belongs to local farmer Jim Angel, who would lease it to the Hive Energy Comp-any for as long as 15 years.
The company, which also has plans for at least five other solar parks, including sites in Southampton, Somerset and Northampton, hopes to generate 20mw of power per year.
This would be enough to power more than 7,500 houses, and it is likely the electricity generated would be used by surrounding houses and businesses. But plans for the park are in the early stages and no planning application has been submitted yet.
The photovoltaic panels, to be connected to the national grid, will be laid out in rows from east to west, spaced eight metres apart, and will be limited to three metres above ground level.
They will either by driven into the soil, or will sit on concrete pads so that the land underneath remains undisrupted. A 2.4m high security fence will protect the site and this will be screened by planting native trees and hedges which will take three to five years to grow.
While the south-east side of the site lies 0.7km away from the north Wessex downs, an area of outstanding natural beauty, company business development director Julian Pertwee believes the site will have a low visual impact on the surrounding area.
He said: “We are very excited about the potential solar park at High Penn Farm because it will be generating renewable energy in an area where the energy demand is rising. It is being built on a former landfill site in close proximity to the electricity substation and finally, we do not feel the proposed site will interfere with the visual aspects of the local community.
“Large scale sites are much more efficient and we have a big planning team to make sure that it’s all well covered. “The Government’s 2020 solar target of 20GW of power is challenging as we have built only 1.3GW in this country today.”
Wiltshire councillor for Calne north, Chuck Berry, said it would be hard to tell how the plans would affect the area until an application was submitted.
He said: “Nobody really knows the whys and wherefores. Clearly I’m in favour of conserving the environment and things that are green but clearly the main people to express an opinion on this are the people who live near the site itself.”
A farm owner on neighbouring land next to the site said she was unconcerned about the new proposals at the moment.
She said: “We have no objection. The land is not the best of land so it seems appropriate that it should be built on and used.”