THE first of three drop-in sessions to inform residents about the Public Inquiry for Wroughton Airfield Solar Farm will take place on Friday.

Swindon Commercial Services Limited and the Science Museum will be hosting the first of three sessions at Ellendune Community Centre, Wroughton from 9am to 12 noon.

The session will include information about the public inquiry process and explain how members of the community can get involved and show their support for the solar farm, which was called in for a public inquiry on April 2.

James Owen, Commercial Director at Swindon Commercial Services Ltd, said: “We know that many of the people living in Wroughton were as surprised as we were that the government has called in the solar farm for a public inquiry, as there was such strong community support for the plans. They’ve been asking us what they can do to show their support during the inquiry process, so we’ve decided to organise these sessions for the community where we’ll be providing information about practical steps they can take to make a difference and have their voices heard.”

The proposed development is a joint project between Swindon Commercial Services Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Swindon Council, and the Science Museum Group, which owns the site and uses it to store 30,000 objects from the reserve national collections.

While the plans have had very strong support from the local community, with 80 per cent in favour, the AONB and English Heritage objected to the project, which lies on the edge of the North Wessex Downs and would be visible from Barbury Castle.

Swindon Council’s planning committee authorised the Head of Planning to approve the plans at a meeting on December 10 last year.

Following the subsequent review by the National Planning Casework Unit, on April 2 the Secretary of State called in the plans for a public inquiry. The process is expected to take approximately four months, with the date of the hearing due in mid-September.

The project proposal also includes a community benefit fund for Wroughton which would amount to around £40,000 a year, for the next 30 years, to be allocated by the community for local projects. Residents would also have the opportunity to invest directly in the solar farm, with a planned minimum investment of just £50, giving them an ownership stake in the project.