A row has erupted over plans for a solar farm on a picturesque Wiltshire hill with residents fearing for a historic tree.

ADAS Planning, working on behalf of developer Greenfield, is running a public consultation on a 15MW solar development at land east of Blounts Court Farm, overlooking the village of Potterne.

The proposals would see a solar farm, that could power the equivalent of over 10,000 homes annually, built on One Tree Hill, which boasts a prominent public right of way used by villagers and those from Devizes.

Residents fear the 27-hectare development would impact the scenery of the landscape and say the iconic ‘Little Tree’ which stands alone on the hill would be “surrounded.”

ADAS denied this would be the case and added they are consulting the public before submitting a planning application in January.

The original elm tree, a much-loved local landmark, was first planted in 1812 and stood until the 1970s, when it was felled and replaced with the current tree due to disease.

Swindon Advertiser: The tree and the hill are prominent overlooking the village of PotterneThe tree and the hill are prominent overlooking the village of Potterne (Image: Julie White)

Over 150 villagers have joined a protest group against the project on Facebook, and hope to “save One Tree Hill”.

Sue Bittner, a Potterne resident for almost 19 years, said: “It’s a historic, beautiful view and we’re all amazed it’s even being considered because it’s right on a hill where everyone can see.

“Lots of people use it every day, for walking their dogs, cycling or horse riding, and it’s not right because you don’t want to be going through solar panels.

“The tree is still that symbol, you can see it for miles, so this is totally the wrong place and the majority are against it, it would be extremely disappointing.”

Leila Peerun, the admin of the Save One Tree Hill Facebook group, launched a campaign against the plans.

Speaking on the page, she added: “We need to protect the character and appearance of this iconic spot within our natural environment.

Swindon Advertiser: The 'Little Tree' on One Tree HillThe 'Little Tree' on One Tree Hill (Image: Julie White)

“Renewable energy is essential but only in locations with lower impact on our ability to enjoy the countryside.”

ADAS insists a “core methodology” of the scheme has been retaining all existing landscape features.

Jacques Carboni, an agent for ADAS, said: “We have the utmost respect for the sentimental and historical value of One Tree Hill to the local community.

“The tree on the hill, as well as the public right of ways throughout the site, will be retained and maintained to ensure that it is fully accessible to the public as it is now.

“We are also considering various ways the public can engage further with both the Solar farm and the tree.”

These plans could include benches around the tree and information boards providing information on the history of the tree, the solar farm, and Potterne.

Swindon Advertiser: 'Little Tree' on One Tree Hill'Little Tree' on One Tree Hill (Image: Cynthia Crocker)

In a brochure delivered to residents, the developers added that the final scheme would deliver “significant” biodiversity net gains while natural buffers would mitigate the impact on views.

During a public meeting hosted by ADAS on December 5, many locals voiced their opposition to the plans, with some also questioning the suitability of Sleight Lane for accessing the site during construction.

One Facebook user labelled the proposal to use the narrow road for heavy vehicles “unbelievable.”

Responding to residents’ concerns, ADAS told this paper the public benefits of the proposal would be “significant and wide-ranging” for the Potterne and Devizes areas, and across the UK.

Mr Carboni added: “The proposed development will not result in significant harm to the natural or physical environment, nor would it result in a significant loss of amenity to those residents living adjacent to the site.

“The generation of clean renewable energy… will help alleviate the impacts of climate change and contribute towards a secure source of energy.”