WILTSHIRE Council has approved plans to build an 83 hectare solar farm to power the new technical college at MoD Lyneham.

The new farm, which will take up an area greater than 100 football pitches, will consist of around 160,000 solar panels and will have the capacity to generate 40MW of power – enough to supply the Defence College of Technical Training (DCTT) set to open at the former RAF base next November.

It is thought that the farm will also be able to generate enough surplus power to fuel around 10,000 homes with electricity.

Councillor Allison Bucknell (Con, Lyneham) welcomed the news that the plans had been approved and that the new college could look forward to being electrically self-sufficent.

She said: “Really I think it’s a very good thing. There were some concerns from residents in Bradenstoke about the visual impact but I am pleased that it has been approved.

“I think the news that the new college will be able to supply its own power and even generate a surplus to go into the national grid can only be a good thing, and the fact that it will be sourced by environmentally friendly means is even better.”

The news has also been welcomed by the Defence Infrastructure Organisa-tion, which is leading on the construction of the new college at the site and submitted the planning application for the solar farm in the summer.

Steve Jeffries, Principal Project Manager for DIO, said: “We are pleased with the decision by Wiltshire Council to approve the development of this solar array.

“The use of solar energy to power the college reinforces MoD’s commitment to the use of renewable energy sources.

“This is a big step forward in the development programme for the college, which will provide the best possible training for the armed forces in one location.

"By bringing together training in one place we are not only improving efficiency but also helping to save money for the taxpayer by rationalising the Defence estate.”

The college, which is currently under construction, will bring together technical training for all three services at one location, making it more efficient and cost effective.

The first phase of work will include the creation of new single living accommodation for trainees, purpose-built teaching facilities, a large outdoor training area and a publicly accessible museum for the Army’s Corps of Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.