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Solar farm to be biggest yet
PLANS to build the largest solar farm in the country have been announced for Wroughton.
Swindon Commercial Services Ltd, owned by Swindon Council, has partnered up with the Science Museum, which owns a former airfield just outside of Wroughton, to create a 40MW solar farm.
The proposed farm will comprise 160,000 solar panels and cover 200 acres of a former RAF site, now owned by The Science Museum at Wroughton.
Developers, SCS, said it could create enough energy to power about 12,000 homes and plans will go on show at Ellendune Community Centre from Saturday, January 26.
The project will cost around £50m, but the backer has not yet been chosen.
James Owen, the project's manager, said that the project is in pre-planning stage and undergoing its first consultation with the public.
If successful, it will move to a planning application in April, work would start in September, and the park would be completed by Christmas.
The Science Museum took over the airfield in the 1970s and uses it to store exhibits that are not currently on display.
The flat land is classed as light industrial and covered in concrete and grass making it easy to install.
Matt Moore, a spokesperson for the Science Museum, said: “As most people in Swindon know we have a large RAF airfield, which we use the main buildings of, the rest is flat land which is unused.
“We are looking at ways we can maximise the use of the site.
“This idea will have a positive impact on the community and that is the point of the consultation to get other peoples views on it.
“The plans we have had previously are based around large public access, or using public funding to carry them out where as this has no adverse impact and will be no expense to the museum.
“This is a robust business plan and we are looking forward to working with SCS.”
SCS has so far only installed much smaller solar ventures on behalf of the council for example on the rooftops of colleges, leisure centres and accommodation.
In such cases, the properties, being owned by the council, the council receives the income from the panels' operation.
This is not only a much bigger project but a different business model.
The company is acting as a developer, and will also pitch to be a subcontractor and provide maintenance services to the Science Museum's project.
James Owen, of SCS, said: “We are right at the early stages of the project and will be holding the public consultation.
“We reckon that will take four to six weeks. It is unlikely we will submit plans before April.
“The more people that can come along to the consultation and give us their views the better for us. We hope to get a good turn-out.
“I hope people do embrace the fact that we're trying to generate a significant amount of renewable energy on land that is pretty unproductive.”