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Plans to use farmland for energy production
1:40pm Wednesday 18th September 2013 in News
FARMER Tim Hues says a major solar park on his land will benefit the community and help his business.
Mr Hues, the second generation to farm at Poulshot Lodge Farm, is working with Hive Energy, a solar park developer in Hampshire, to create a solar park that would generate 16 megawatts of electricity a year.
It would be on 79 acres of arable land and the ground-mounted solar panels would be capable of supplying energy to 5,000 homes in the Devizes area.
An exhibition outlining the plan was held at Poulshot Village Hall last week and a planning application is expected to be submitted to Wiltshire Council next month. If approved, it could be operational by next summer.
Hive Energy would lease the land from Mr Hues for a period of 25 years and the panels would be no higher than 2.4 metres above the ground.
Poulshot Lodge Farm has a total of 1,800 acres and farms crops plus cattle, pigs and poultry, and it has been run by the Hues family for 47 years. They opened a farm shop there three years ago.
Mr Hues, 34, said the land proposed for the solar park was poor quality arable land.
He said: “The land gets wet and we have struggled to produce crops of any sort on it. It’s poor ground that hasn’t returned much over the last few years. Our crops failed down there last autumn and last year was the worst summer we have ever had due to the rain. We have got to squeeze everything out of our acreage.
“A solar park is a diversification project. We plan to farm the land where the solar panels would be by grazing sheep round them. We don’t have sheep on the farm at the moment so it would be our intention to have them to produce lamb to sell in our farm shop. We can also make silage if needed.
“I think there can be a misconception about solar parks and how they work and that they take away from the natural environment. We feel we can add to the biodiversity of our farm by having a solar park.”
Tim Purbrick, commercial director of Hive Energy, said the land was ideal because it has good sunlight levels, and the solar panels would be capable of generating energy throughout the year during daylight hours.
The Poulshot scheme would be one of the largest that Hive Energy has undertaken so far. It has developed 13 solar parks across southern England including at Castle Eaton, Pentylands near Highworth and Rodbourne near Malmesbury.
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