THE council are looking into the feasibility of developing two solar farms in both the north and the south of the borough.
A proposal, to go before the cabinet later this week, could set in motion the wheels that would see farms opening at Chapel Farm, near Blunsdon, and Common Farm, close to Wroughton, both of which are council-owned sites.
The plan would be in addition to work being done on solar barriers along the A419 and M4, while work is also being done on the creation of a Low Carbon’ Local Development Order, making it easier to build renewable energy projects in Swindon.
Together they represent the movement on the Swindon’s Energy Future strategy.
Chapel Farm is currently a landfill site and has recently been identified as the source of a smell plaguing residents in North Swindon.
However, the area, which will be used for any solar project, is no longer used and has been restored, although it is not suitable for building on.
Historically, because of the nature of the land at the former landfill, solar panels are not suitable but a design has been produced to make it viable.
As electricity is already produced at the landfill, there are enough local connections to hook up any solar farm to the grid. The site is also favourable because it is largely hidden from view.
Although the plans are yet to be fully developed, the initial move has been welcomed by the chairman of the Blunsdon Parish Council Ian Jankinson.
“As long as it doesn’t represent a major eyesore then I think this is a good idea,” he said.
“The land isn’t really much use for anything else and anything has got to be better than a landfill. “Any moves towards greener energy have got to be a good thing. I am very supportive of the council’s renewable energy proposals on the whole and will be a benefit to everyone.”
Initial talks have also taken place with the tenant to look into the viability of installing solar panels at Common Farm.
Part of the farm is currently used for grazing but is also used to grow Christmas trees, farm turkeys and sell biomass product. The current tenant has said they would be willing to release part of the site ahead to the tenancy agreements end and then use the site to graze sheep.
While the solar farm at the Wroughton Airfield has been put on hold while the planning inspector carries out a public enquiry, the Common Farm site could link to the grid at a similar spot.
If the proposals are moved forward at Wednesday’s meeting, then Swindon Commercial Services will look into how to move the schemes on to the next phase.