THERE is dismay after plans for a huge solar farm in a conservation village on the edge of Swindon were given the green light.

JBM Solar Projects has been given permission to cover 236 acres with thousands of solar panels on a swathe of land to the east of Stanton Fitzwarren.

That's the equivalent of 118 full-size football pitches.

The company says the farm will produce 49.9 megawatts of energy at peak production – enough for about 15,000 houses – and saving 25,000 tonnes of carbon.

But while the parish council and some people in the village between Swindon and Highworth were in favour, many are not.

Debra Boddington, who lives in Trenchard Road, said: “I’m very sad about it. I’m so disappointed.

“I’m in favour of renewable energy, but this is just so huge. It will dominate the whole place.

"Stanton Fitzwarren already has fields of solar panels on its borders. We are contributing already enough towards renewable energy. Escalating renewable energy on such a huge scale is asking too much of the village.

"We don’t know what sort of effect it will have on us, having so much of the green land next to the village covered in this farm.”

There are two solar farms already on the edges of the village – one at the north and one at the southern end. The former is also run by JMB Solar Projects and is about a tenth of the capacity of the new installation, producing five megawatts.

The newly-approved plan will fill in the area between the two existing farms.

Debra expressed concern about what happens after the 35-year term of the farm.

She said: “Solar panels contain chemicals such as arsenic, cadmium and lead.

"This damage will be inherited by future generations when the panels are no longer viable and need to be disposed of safely. The consequences of using and disposing panels is still unknown.”

Another villager, Elizabeth Hillman, is also not in favour – agreeing the existing solar farms were enough for the area.

She said: “We support solar energy but panels should be on factory roofs, not taking over productive farmland. Solar panels on all the houses in the New Eastern Villages would be good.

“Planting trees on all this land would have a great ecological benefit, remove carbon dioxide from the air and help meet government targets for re-afforestation.

“The scale of this proposal is overwhelming for this small conservation village.”

Emma Thomas said: “There will be a loss of productive agricultural land which is fertile and predominantly flat and yields several crops per year.

"Further development would make our small village an industrial solar site.”

But opposition to the plan is not unanimous in the village.

Stanton Fitzwarren Parish Council was in support of the scheme.

It said: “The solar farm will have no, or little significance on the village heritage assets. The setting of the heritage assets will not be affected as the solar farm will be outside of the setting and vision of these assets.

“All of the significant views in the adopted Stanton Fitzwarren conservation area document are on the west side of the village. There are no significant views from the conservation area towards the east of the village.”

It added the panels on the solar farm would be placed over a ridge which rises to the east of the village and would not be seen from it.

Some villagers are in favour too.

Sue Mackenzie said: "I think it'll be fine. They're going to screen it, and I don't think it'll be very visible and it's probably worth it for renewable energy

"I think we have to do more things like this to get more from renewable energy."

Jayne Price added: "I'm all in favour of it. It is beautiful country but I want there to be a planet left for my children and their children and their children.

"If we don't do this there won't be a planet left with climate change as it is."