Solar farms issue can't be ignored, say Seend campaigners

Jack Churchill

Jack Churchill

First published in News by

Campaigners in Seend are critical of Wiltshire Council’s approach to solar farm applications, as plans are prepared for a ninth possible site in the area.

The Wake Up Wiltshire group, which has campaigned against solar panel installations around the village, presented a petition of 300 signatures to Devizes MP Claire Perry at a public meeting on Saturday.

Over 500 acres of land are potentially earmarked for solar panels within a five-mile radius of Seend, including a 198-acre site on Sandridge Hill, near Melksham, which is currently awaiting planning permission.

Mr Churchill said: “I don’t think anyone wants one area to be totally covered in solar farms.

“I think we are the epicentre of the UK’s solar farms here in west Wiltshire.

“Tourism is one of the biggest bits of the economy for Wiltshire. People come to this area to go along the canal, and come camping and caravanning.

“I really question whether people will come here if it’s going to be turned into some industrial park.”

He added: “Wiltshire has no strategy for solar farms and we are playing catch-up.

“We would really like to see Wiltshire Council doing something to come up with a place to spread some of the burden across Wiltshire.”

At the meeting it was revealed a further 20-acre site was being prepared at Rew Farm in Seend, off the A361.

Mr Churchill said: “People at the meeting were quite shocked.

“Quite often if you are on low-lying land your parish will not be affected, but anyone in higher land will be.

“What I feel is happening is parish councils are being picked off individually, and there is no joined-up thinking.

“If our area becomes overwhelmed by this it will have a huge impact.”

Green Switch, the site’s developer, is holding a consultation to discuss the plans at The Barge Inn at Seend Cleeve on Wednesday, February 19, from 3pm to 7pm.

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