ONE of the men behind a new multi-million pound renewable energy plan on the outskirts of town has played down the impact it will have on local people.

Plans for a five megawatt capacity solar farm with more than 20,000 panels in a field to the north of South Marston were unveiled at a consultancy session yesterday.

The scheme proposes to build on a 30-acre plot just 600 metres away from another solar farm proposal at Roves Farm which is from the same company, AEE Renewables.

It is also a near the site of a controversial proposal for wind turbines at Honda, which are still being considered by Swindon Council.

George Paton, a partner at Webbpaton who act for the landowner of the field, said: “This is not like the Honda windturbines. These things are only 2.45m tall at the highest point.

“You won’t be able to see them because the hedge will hide them completely.

“They won’t be 85 metres up in the air.

“If you look at it from far away it just looks like dark glass.”

The 21,720 panels will have a 30 degree tilt and will be 6.1m apart with sheep grazing on the grass around them. Mr Paton said that the plans will help meet the Government target of having 20 per cent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The solar panels will generate enough energy to power 790 average properties in a year and the developers hope it will be in place by the end of the year.

Scott Ferguson of AEE Renewables, the project coordinator, said: “There are only certain places you can put solar panels because of where the connections are to the national grid.

“The field is also completely flat and has low visibility. There are high hedges all the way around so you can’t see into the field – it won’t blight the landscape.”

AEE Renewables is behind 75 solar farm projects across the country which are all at different planning stages. Residents were invited yesterday to discuss the plans with the developers and raise any concerns.

Mr Ferguson said the proposals will be submitted to Swindon Council in March. If permission is given, it will take six weeks to install the panels, which will be motionless and silent.