Plans submitted for English solar plant

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The plant, set to have nearly 20,000 ground-mounted solar panels, is to be built by Chippenham-based Good Energy. It is predicted that the 25-acre solar farm will produce enough electricity for over a thousand homes.

The owners of the farm will introduce innovative methods to catch sunlight. Rob and Margaret Elliott, who run Lower End Farm where the panels will be installed, said, "We are also planning to install new chicken sheds that will include rooftop solar panels, helping to further reduce the carbon footprint of the farm.”

Good Energy has commissioned a plan to create habitats for wildlife such as bettles, bats, and birds around the solar farm. However, a local pressure group named Wiltshire Protect plans to oppose the development. Jack Churchill, spokesperson for the group, said, “It’s the cumulative effect that these solar farms create by changing the character of green open land as the landscape goes from being rural to industrial. 100% of the developments put forward are on agricultural land.”

Wiltshire Protect was formed following proposals for solar parks in the neighbouring town of Seend. In 2013, Wiltshire was one of five counties where Portugal-based developer Martifer Solar began building 50 MW worth of solar plants.

The group’s website states, "If developed these solar farms will generate 91.7 MW of renewable capacity. If the county of Wiltshire is to meet its share of the national target for 30% of electricity generation from renewable sources, the county should be generating 367 MW from renewables by 2020. The figure of 367 MW can be generated from about 2000 acres of land. This means the rural valleys surrounding the village of Seend will be supplying one quarter of the whole county’s renewable energy requirements.Like many in Wiltshire, the residents of Seend are generally in favour of renewable energy but question whether these are the most appropriate locations for industrial scale solar farms to be sited when taking into account the size of the entire county."