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Speaking out on largest solar farm
RESIDENTS have had the opportunity to have their say on plans to build the largest solar farm in the country on a Wroughton airfield.
Swindon Commercial Services Ltd has partnered with the Science Museum, which owns a former airfield just outside Wroughton, to create a 40MW solar farm.
It would comprise 160,000 solar panels and cover 200 acres of a former RAF site, now owned by The Science Museum at Wroughton.
SCS said it could create enough energy to power 12,000 homes.
People queued outside the Ellendune Community Centre on Saturday to cast their eye over the plans and overall, there was a positive response to the project, which will cost around £50m.
James Owen, project manager, was delighted to see so many people turn up to have their say and said if the consultation was a success, it would move to a planning application in April, work would start in September, and the park would be completed by Christmas.
“It is fantastic to see so many people turn out to see the plans and we have forms that they can fill in to give their feedback which we look forward to hearing,” said James.
“Just from going around the room we’ve had a lot of support from people, even those who are going to be affected by the plans.
“We’ve got the space for this already and it won’t attract high volumes of traffic like some of the previous plans that have been put forward for this site might have done.
“We are very hopeful to get this project off the ground.”
Wroughton residents Joan Orman and Sally Parker were impressed by what they had seen on display and supported the plans.
Joan said: “I am very strongly in favour, because the need for renewable energy is great, we need to get away from using non-renewable sources.
“The plans show it will be up and running quickly and the land is not really used at the moment.”
However, not everybody who attended was won over.
Colin Maxfield, of Stratton, could not see how the plans would benefit the people of Swindon.
He said: “The plans don’t impress me. I think it’s a massive displacement for what will be small advantages.
“I’m all in favour of finding alternative energy sources but I think nuclear is the way forward and is safe enough.
“I think it will ruin what is a real spot of natural beauty.”
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, spokesman for the Science Museum, said: “This idea will have a positive impact on the community and that is the point of the consultation to get other people’s 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.”