PLANS for as many as 32,000 solar panels in Shaw Forest will be discussed at a consulation event next month.

The development, which is being proposed for the former site of Barnfield tip, would see between 16,000 and 32,000 solar panels being installed.

A meeting will take place on February 2 at Peatmoor Community Primary School to discuss the proposal, which would cover between 22 and 25 acres.

Coun Nick Martin (Con, Shaw) said: “It is an opportunity to create green energy in an area we are not using at the moment.

“It is a large plateau and I don’t think they will be putting solar panels on more than half of it. I am keen that we actually plant the hillside leading up to the plateau. “Ideally I would like to keep part of the plateau, close to the Thames Water site, free because it would be a good place to have one or two birdwatching huts.

“We have restored Shaw Forest in a fantastic way, which has a large green space in the middle and thousands of trees around the outside, and a lot of wildlife. “In this case we are seeing an opportunity where we can generate cheap electricity. There is an opportunity to connect to the main grid.

“Swindon Commercial Services came forward with the idea of putting solar panels on.”

The consultation will take place from 10am-2pm and will give people the chance to hear more about the plans.

If it goes ahead, the site could create enough electricity to power 1,500 homes.

Coun Martin said: “I am pretty positive about everything we are doing. In West Swindon we have got more public open space today than we had 20 years ago. “Shaw Forest has generated more than 100 acres of public open space. Now it is somewhere people can walk their and fly a kite.

“I have been involved in Shaw Forest since the 1980s. Seeing it steadily move forward has been astonishing and very satisfying.”

The solar panel project was outlined at the West Swindon Forum meeting on November 12 by the head of energy and sustainability at SCS, James Owen.